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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

BY SUSAN ERTZ 



PUBLISHER'S NOTE 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 


BY 

SUSAN ERTZ 


if 

PENGUIN BOOKS LIMITED 

LONDON 



First published 1927 
Published in Penguin Books 1937 


MADE AND PRINTED IN GREAT BRITAIN BY 
HAZELL, WATSON & VINEY, LTD., LONDON AND AYLESBURY 



CHAPTER I 


It seemed to George Goodall that he had already left New 
York — ^his birthplace, his home, almost his world — and for 
how long he didn’t know. A year at least, perhaps two 
V/cars. His feelings were those of a man temporarily sus- 
bended outside of time and space. New York — though his 
feet were on its pavements — was behind him; Europe, 
remote, unknown, was ahead. At the moment it seemed to 
him that he was nowhere at all, and the sensation of being 
nowhere gave him a dull and uncomfortable heartache 
which he diagnosed as homesickness for a place he had not 
yet left. 

New York. The name was as familiar to him as his own 
name — so familiar that it was meaningless. It was as much 
a part of him as the skin he was living in. It had never 
occurred to him as a serious possibility that he might some 
day live somewhere else. And now his regular daily 
existence which he had seen spread neatly about him, both 
before and behind, like a map, was in complete disorder. 
The future was fluid and formless, and even the familiar 
past seemed insecure. Those big, ominous trunks that 
stood packed, locked and labelled in the hall of their apart- 
ment in Park Avenue ; the dinner the directors of his com- 
pany had given him the night before ; his wife’s farewells to 
her friends over the telephone, or, less briefly, in the draw- 
ing-room; the bustle and excitement connected with a 
voyage — all these things made the pavements under his feet 
:hat evening seem unreal and strange to him. 

It was nine o’clock, and he walked up Fifth Avenue in the 
May dusk toward his club, and thought that even Althea, his 
vife, and Cleve, his son, had taken on a new quality. He had 
eft Althea prone on the sofa in the midst of the horrible 
jrder she had wrought. It had been her aim and desire to 
leave the apartment in as neat and perfect a state as possible 

5 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

for their friends the Mertons, who were moving in almost at 
once, and George was impressed with her success. She 
wouldn’t leave anything to the servants, and now she was 
tired out, which was alarming in a young woman of her 
extraordinary energy. She had not been too exhausted, 
nevertheless, to busy herself even as she lay there with the 
reading over and the sorting out of the letters of introduc- 
tion her friends had given her. i 

She was already arranging her life in London, decidinil 
which doors she would like opened to her and which had' 
better remain closed, while George, with his heartache, 
walked slowly and thoughtfully to his club, wondering if 
women had any roots at all, and admiring — ^and envying a 
little — ^their easy transitions from one life to another. 
Althea, in her owj^ private mind, was already in London. 
She was seeing herself in some house there, going from 
room to room, looking out of the windows on an already 
familiar street. He couldn’t picture London at all, but, of 
course, she had been there and he hadn’t. He could only 
manage a tall black tower with a flag flying from it, which 
he labelled the Tower of London, and he pictured chop- 
houses with sawdust on the floors, and old and unpretentious 
tailors’ establishments. To one of the latter he imagined 
himself going to order clothes, and standing with his coat 
olf, being measured. Tailors always corqplimented him on 
his figure, some indirectly, some openly, and these English 
tailors to whom he went in his fancy were no exception* 
But what it, would be like to live there, or to live in any 
other world but the world of the United States, he simply 
couldn’t imagine. 

His mother, a lively, superficial woman to whom Europe 
was a sort of Tom Tiddler’s ground, had often been abroad 
during his youth, to return laden with spoils for herself and 
with ties, socks and picture-postcards for him, at which lait 
he never so much as glanced. Althea had been twice, once 
before her marriage, when she had travelled with her father, 
irascible old Henry Cleveland — there was a shadowy Italian 
Marquis in her verdant years, but Mr. Cleveland had 

6 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Stamped him out — and once again before Cleve was born, 
when she went with the elder Mrs. Goodall. George had 
not accompanied them himself because of the exactions of a 
fast-growing business, and because travelling abroad had 
always seemed to him a vaguely feminine practice. Althea’s 
absence had not seemed so very long — ^no longer, indeed, 
than it actually was, for his friends had been kind and he had 
dined out nearly every night — but their separation had 
nevertheless made a faint difference in their lives. Althea 
had returned with exquisite clothes and a dampened enthusi- 
asm for the circles in which she was obliged to wear them. 
She looked upon New York and their home there, that 
admirable apartment of eight rooms and four baths, as 
though they had faded and shrunk in her absence. She 
even made George feel, for a while, as though he too had 
faded and shrunk. She seemed to have added a cubit to 
her stature in some way, so that he was at a disadvantage, 
but that passed. 

And then came the night a month ago when he had told 
her, among other casual items of down-town news, that the 
firm was sending Howard Peters to London. They would 
have to have someone there permanently now, he explained, 
the London business was getting too big and too important 
to be handled from New York. Althea had received this 
news in what seemed to him a preoccupied silence. She 
had the look of a woman who tries to do a sum rapidly in 
her head. Thinking she wasn’t interested in what he was 
saying, he went on to speak of something else, but she 
interrupted him crisply. 

“ Why Howard Peters ? What qualifications has he got 
for a position like that ? ” 

“ Qualifications ? ” George looked at her with surprise. 
“ Why, he’s all right. What’s wrong with him ? He 
knows the business, everybody likes him, and he’s a good 
manager. What more is wanted ? ” 

“ A lot more, I should say.” Her speech became 
Staccato, her words pointed. “ Remember it’s London 
he’s going to. It isn’t Seattle or New Orleans or Pittsburg.” 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Well, I know, but he isn’t going as Amljassador to the 
Court of St. James’s either.” 

“ He ought to have other social gifts,” she persisted, 
“ besides being able to mix a cocktail and tell a funny story. 
And how do you suppose Albertine Peters will get on in 
England ? She’ll antagonize everyone she meets. She 
thinks all European women are immoral.” 

George had to admit, with amusement, that there was a 
good deal of truth in this. Mrs. Peters spent her life fight- 
ing for the purity of American morals and at the same time 
fiercely denying their impurity whenever the superiority of 
American to European morals was called into question. 
Trying to maintain this perilous and difficult position upon 
a logical tight-rope took her all her time, and Althea was 
probably right in thinking she wouldn’t be popular. 

“ There’s nobody else who could go.” 

“ Isn’t there ? ” She looked satirically at him, as though 
she suspected his obtuseness of being assumed. 

“ Well, is there ? Who would you suggest ? ” 

Quietly, but with disdainful lips she said : 

“ I suggest your going yourself, of course, and taking 
Cleve and me.” Then, crescendo, her voice rising, ” Good 
heavens, George, I oughtn’t to have to point this out to you. 
It’s perfectly obvious that you’re the one to go. And 
what’s even more obvious, it’s high time you got out of this 
rut you’re in,” 

He stared at her, amazed. 

“ Rut ? What do you mean ? I’m not in a rut,” 

He had suddenly released the swollen waters of a flood. 
He was inundated by the dammed-up river of her deep and 
secret resentments. He was more than in a rut, he was 
buried alive. They were both of them buried alive. Their 
joint existence was just one little deadly round ; the same 
faces, the same places, the same ideas— or lack of ideas. 
She wanted to go where she would hear other things dis- 
cussed besides prohibition and business. They and all their 
stupid friends were as alike as peas. She wanted to go 
where people were different, different, different ! She had 

8 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

always longed to live abroad, and he knew it perfectly well. 
She had always supposed they would have to wait until he 
retired from business, and by that time, heaven knew, she’d 
probably be a decrepit old woman. Now a chance had 
come to go while they were young and pliable and able to 
learn and to enjoy life, and he ignored it, he was too hope- 
lessly buried in his rut to see it. She wanted Cleve to have a 
different education; she wanted him brought up to love 
learning and to appreciate beautiful things. She didn’t 
want him brought up to be a good salesman. She was sick 
of New York, sick of their monotonous life, sick of everyone 
she knew. If something didn’t happen soon she’d be sick 
of him. 

It ended in wild tears and Althea sobbing in his arms. 
He was moved and shaken, but he was, above all, pro- 
foundly thankful that this thing she evidently wanted with 
all her heart and soul was something he could give her, and 
give her quickly, immediately, as though he were applying 
some necessary and healing remedy to a terrible wound. 
He therefore applied it, lovingly, thankfully, and her sobs 
gradually ceased, and he smoothed her hair with a humble 
and practised hand, wondering how he could best break the 
news to Howard Peters, and what reason he could find, 
other than the real one, for going in his place. 

He put forward not a single objection himself. He had 
only one to offer, and that a purely selfish one. He didn’t 
want to leave New York. He believed he was as happy 
there as it was reasonable to expect to be anywhere. It was 
his home, and he had no wish to seek another. But such an 
objection as that, he thought, would have been as futile as a 
candle flame in a hurricane, and being purely personal and 
selfish as well as futile, it was not even mentioned. 

George reflected as he neared the park that never, in all 
the time they had been married, over six years, had he seen 
AJthea as eager and excited as now. What was it, he 
wondered — this curious attraction Europe had for women ? 
He felt none of it himself. He supposed it was partly 
because women were better educated. Their minds 

9 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

responded more readily and painlessly to outside stimulus. 
They had time to go to lectures, to read instructive books, 
so that when they found themselves face to face with Canter- 
bury Cathedral or the Arc de Triomphe or the Leaning 
Tower of Pisa they didn’t stand naked and ashamed, but 
were able to clothe themselves in a few decent if flimsy rags 
of knowledge. 

What drew them to Paris, of course, was chiefly the dress- 
makers. He was under no illusions about that. But they 
panted, too, for London, Rome, Florence, Berlin, Munich, 
Dresden, Vienna, Athens, and the lure there was something 
very different. No, he didn’t feel the pull. He could 
imagine the discomforts of travelling, but not its joys. 
Hurrying for trains, counting small pieces of luggage, inter- 
viewing interpreters, putting up with the probable incon- 
veniences of foreign hotels, being either too hot or too cold 
— what, he wondered, did they see in it ? And it puzzled 
him very much to understand what Althea expected to find 
in London that she was not finding in New York. It 
wasn’t the galleries, he was sure of that. The Metropolitan 
was as good as any, experts said so, and she never went 
there. They would be total strangers in London, while in 
New York they had a large number of friends, and although 
these friends didn’t altogether satisfy Althea, not a day 
passed without her seeing some of them. She had a con- 
venient and comfortable home, chosen and furnished by 
herself, there was his mother’s place on Long Island to go 
to in the summer, with golf, bathing, riding, tennis and 
dancing, to say nothing of bridge and poker parties, all of 
which Althea occasionally enjoyed, and yet she wanted to 
leave all these tried and accustomed things for the doubtful 
benefits of life in a foreign country. 

He stood for some moments on the kerb, waiting for a 
break in the stream of cars flowing toward Broadway, 
whose angry glow already illuminated the sky behind him, 
then darted across to the other side with that feeling of 
shamed inferiority being on foot in New York always gave 
him. He seldom walked for pleasure; it was sentiment 

10 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

that had sent him out strolling to-night under the pretext of 
seeing if there were any letters for him at the club. New 
York didn’t encourage the strolling habit, and it showed 
how moved and stirred he was. As he looked up at the 
square outline of his club against the sky, he wondered 
when he would see it again, and although he cared very 
little for it, finding it merely a convenience, the thought that 
he was now about to put a space of years between himself 
and it increased his heartache. 

He met a friend at the door, and they stopped to speak. 
George had already said good-bye to him down-town, 
earlier in the day, and now it seemed to him as though they 
were separated by miles of ocean. He found nothing to 
say at such a distance, and they merely repeated their good- 
byes foolishly and flatly. 

“ Say good-bye to Althea for me,” his friend said over his 
shoulder. “ I suppose she’s just about crazy at the idea of 
living in Europe. My wife would be.” 

George said yes, he thought she was, with the mental 
comment that crazy was hardly too strong a word for 
Althea’s present mood of high elation, and they parted, and 
not wishing for further encounters, he sent a page in to get 
his letters, while he stood smoking on the steps. His 
friend’s words, “ My wife would be,” echoed in his ears. 
All wives would be, he supposed. No, women had no 
roots. The page returned with three bills, and he said 
good-night and turned toward home. 

The soft evening air was full of smoke and fumes from 
the cars that streamed past, a few inches only between hub 
and hub or nose and tail-light. Many of them were 
brightly lighted inside, and women thus displayed them- 
selves with wraps thrown open to show their pearls and the 
orchids on their shoulders. Their escorts were more often 
than not thick, gross men who smoked large cigars and 
looked bulky and cumbersome sitting beside the women. 
These, George said to himself, his perceptions on this last 
night quickened and sharpened, were people of a difierent 
race from his own. They were the Schades and the Gros- 

11 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

zeks and the Kottmans and the Pildowskis and the Lilian- 
thals and their womenfolk, and he thought, with an 
apprehension he had never felt before, of his own kind, the 
Mertons and the Mannerings and the Rushworths and the 
Stevens, and he wondered how long they would be able to 
keep their place in the great procession that once they led, 
with these quicker and more single-minded cohorts swelling 
and multiplying and pressing on faster and faster through 
the ranks of citizens. New York was now the most cos- 
mopolitan city in the world. Even his own little circle was 
constantly being broken into by the incursion of some 
Groszek or Kottman who had a “ perfectly lovely yacht ” 
or a “ perfectly heavenly camp ” in the Adirondacks, and 
exceptions were made again and again. And that excep- 
tions were made was a source of increasing annoyance to 
Althea. 

There was, as Althea well knew, and as he therefore knew, 
one circle in New York in which no exceptions were made 
except for the very best of reasons; a circle into which 
members had to be born, or else find their way through the 
power of some talent, or the ability to discover, finance or 
exploit talent. Music was at the moment the great open 
sesame, and if, when there, the musicians were often treated 
like queens’ dwarfs or kings’ jesters, in this it resembled 
every other such circle in every other big city. He knew, 
for she had often told him, that Althea was dissatisfied with 
their own “ set,” which made exceptions alarmingly, and 
looked hungrily toward that other set which let its barriers 
down only for entertainment or novelty, never for material 
advantage. 

He thought of Althea sorting out those letters of introduc- 
tion as she lay on the sofa. She meant to make no mistakes. 
She considered that it would be better to destroy the lot 
than to start badly. Toward these preoccupations George 
was very tolerant. They seemed to him feminine and 
legitimate as long as they exacted no more from him than 
the money to pursue them. 

He was accustomed to living in a world where “ society,” 

12 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

in its most limited and trivial sense, v^as almost wholly the 
women’s affair. Men were sometimes drawn reluctantly 
into it, but for the most part it was the business of idle 
women during their otherwise idle days. These activities 
began in the morning as often as not, with the smart morn- 
ing concerts, subscription affairs, that Althea usually man- 
aged to attend. Then there were elaborate and almost 
daily luncheons at which no man was ever seen, and to 
follow, receptions, teas, charity matinees, fashionable 
lectures. For all these functions the women dressed with 
that especial care they take when they are to be seen by 
large numbers of their own sex, and they endeavoured to 
amused or amusing, or to attract the notice of women 
more socially prominent than themselves. 

George often wondered what sort of a “ kick ” the 
women got out of this, but he supposed it was a kind of 
game to them, just as making money was a kind of game to 
him. Anyhow, it was the way all the women Althea knew 
spent their time, and it wasn’t up to their husbands to 
criticize or complain, even if the dress bills grew higher. 
Why should they ? Business was good. 

He was satisfied that he had done right in giving in to 
Althea, and he was gratified that she was excited and eager 
at the thought of their new life, even though it was an 
eagerness he couldn’t share. It was a great thing, he con- 
sidered, to know what you want, and Althea knew exactly. 
She was also very definite about what she didn’t want. 
His own vague dissatisfactions and discontents he was in 
the habit of keeping to himself. He hardly knew what they 
were, he was only half aware of their existence, as one is 
sometimes half aware of pain while sleeping. He had from 
time to time a grumbling worry at the back of his mind, due 
to suspicion that he was rather less than half educated, 
and that he ought to do something about it, but he was too 
busy to give the matter much attention, and he consoled 
himself with the thought that in matters of culture Althea 
had knowledge enough for two. 

The elevator shot him up to the fifth floor, and he opened 

13 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

a heavy glass and wrought-iron door with his key. It was a 
door that opened smoothly and silently, like the ingenious 
and perfectly fitting door of a trap, and when it shut again 
with no more than a faint click it seemed to shut out the 
world forever. 

He laid his hat on the hall table and went into the 
drawing-room. Althea was still lying on the sofa, but she 
had fallen asleep. She lay with her knees drawn up, show- 
ing silken shins and small gold slippers, and the curves of 
her body under her green tea-gown looked young and 
supple and strong. She had a clear, evenly coloured skin, 
not white but a delicate brown, and her hair was nearly 
black, with bronze high-lights. She was a very pretty 
woman, and she knew it, none better. George stood look- 
ing down on her with pride and love and unfaded interest. 
She was all women to him, yet different from any. She was 
like all her sex and like none. He suddenly felt, as he stood 
there, as though she were going away from him, alone, and 
he experienced a sharp sensation of discomfort and loss, 
and had to remind himself that he was going with her, and 
that nothing was going to separate them or change them in 
any way. He bent down and kissed her forehead, and she 
woke and put her arms around his neck as naturally and 
affectionately as a child. He loved her waking moments, 
before her shrewd brain had begun to work, for then she 
was like a warm and affectionate young animal, with pretty, 
drowsy ways. 

“ George, was I asleep ? I suppose I must have been, 

I was dog tired,” She stretched herself and yawned. “ I 
can hardly believe it’s to-morrow we go. To-morrow . . . 
only nine hours from now. Think of it ! ” 

“ It’s to-morrow all right,” he said, straightening 
liimself, still with that feeling of depression and loss 
upon him. 

She rubbed her eyes and got to her feet. He watched ter 
tidying the cushions where she had been lying, and smooth- 
ing away her impress on the sofa. 

“ Well, thank heaven everything’s ready. We’ll only 

14 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

have to walk out of the house. I don’t believe I’ve for- 
gotten a thing.” 

She picked up the letters that lay in a little pile on the 
table. 

“ Do you think you’ll use any of those things ? ” George 
asked, and wondered how long it would be before he would 
again see the lamplight on those familiar walls. 

” Perhaps. We’ll see. I’ve only kept five. Did you 
see anybody at the club ? ” 

“ Only Bruce. I’d said good-bye to him already.” 

Her bright observant eyes searched the room, and finding 
everything in order, she went toward the door. Tired 
though she was, she walked with her customary erectness. 
She carried herself like a Frenchwoman, with light, swaying 
step, raised breast and straight back. George lingered, 
full of unhappiness and vague regrets and apprehensions. 

” Althea ... I wonder when we’ll live here again ? ” 

“ Oh, George, don’t let’s worry about that now. I’m so 
glad to be getting out of it I don’t care when I see it again — 
or if I never do.” 

“ Well, I care,” he said. He looked at the rugs, the 
hangings, the furniture, at the tall lamp he had given her for 
Christmas. ” We’ve lived here ever since we were married.” 

” Exactly,” she replied, dryly, and stood waiting for him 
with her hand on the switch. ” Come along, George. I’d 
no idea you were so sentimental. It’s getting late, too.” 

” All right,” he said, and moved slowly toward the door 
” Turn out the light. I’m coming.” 


15 



CHAPTER II 


They sailed on the Olympic in May. George found 
that a good many of the Pildowskis and the Kottmans 
and the Schades were sailing with them and occupying 
the best cabins, and he reflected that only a generation ago 
they, or their parents, had come to America in the steerage 
from that Mother Europe to which they were now — 
with such difierent thoughts and feelings — returning for 
a costly holiday. He thought none the less of them for 
that. On the contrary, he passionately admired success, 
like most of his kind, but he wondered how and where 
it was all going to end. The sport was good, but the 
pace was killing. 

The Olympic also carried some of their own friends: 
Mr. and Mrs. Mills, who had a married daughter in 
Paris, the Devereux family, with three daughters to be 
presented at Court, and old Mr. and Mrs. Stevens, on 
their twenty-fifth trip abroad. And — seeming to occupy, 
in Althea’s eyes, more space than any of them — Sherman 
Halsey, the rich New York broker and collector, who had 
a foot in New York, a foot in Paris and both hands in 
London. 

Althea had never met him. He was a conspicuous 
ornament of that other “ set ” on which she cast envious 
eyes, but George had lunched with him once or twice, 
and now, at Althea’s request, he took the opportunity of 
introducing her to the great man. She was suitably 
unmoved and unimpressed, and — ^for she had social gifts 
— appeared perfectly acquainted with his habits and in- 
terests, and spoke of them lightly and casually. She 
said, in the course of their first meeting, that it was too 
bad they were arriving in London in the midst of the 
season. London wak so adorable when it wasn’t full of 
Ameripans. George thought this was going rather far, 

16 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

and demurred, but she said, laughing, and showing her 
excellent teeth : 

“ You wait, my dear, just you wait till you’ve seen a few 
thousand of your own countrypeople abroad. He’s never 
been to Europe before, Mr. Halsey.” 

Sherman Halsey had a brown, wrinkled face, a brown,, 
wrinkled neck and small, slightly Oriental eyes. He 
looked, except for that hint of the East, like a multitude of 
other men who have had to make their own way in the 
world and have left the plough or the office broom to 
do it. This inconspicuousness served him well, for it 
made him seem enigmatic and dangerous, like a man in a 
mask. He was frequently silent and always watchful, 
and he intentionally allowed his occupations and interests 
to seem frivolous, as indeed they often were. He was a 
kindly snob with a double passion for society and finance, 
and though he was constantly in the company of women, 
he did not, as far as the observer could judge, prefer Mrs. 
Willie Edgecombe to the Comtesse de Mieux, or the 
Honourable Mrs. Hugh Leincester to the lovely Miss 
Partington. He gave careful parties in three capitals, 
and was rather more than welcome at the parties of his 
friends. It was said that the President of the United 
States made, from time to time, unofficial use of him, and 
it was generally understood that he could predict, if he 
would, the rise and fall of foreign currencies, and especially 
of the French franc. 

He was quietly interested in and amused by the Goodalls. 
He told an acquaintance on board that if an inhabitant of 
Mars had come to him and asked to be shown a typical 
modern American couple, he would have led him straight 
to the Goodalls. He wondered, he said, what their 
progress would be like. He was always interested in 
what happened to Americans in England. Living in 
a foreign country was like a gentle and continuous massage, 
and was apt to change people’s outlines a little. The 
Goodalls, he thought, would join an American circle, 
and Goodall would play a good deal of golf. They 

17 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

would frequently be seen — but always together — at the 
better night clubs, and he would be seen from time to time 
in other company at the less reputable ones. Their 
accents would gradually and almost without their know- 
ledge become modified. Otherwise they would remain 
unchanged. This, Mr. Halsey considered, was the normal 
course their lives would take unless diverted by something 
unforeseen. Mrs. Goodall might go far with help, but 
Goodall was conservative and socially unambitious, and 
would keep her back. 

“ I think he means to see something of us in London,” 
Althea remarked on the fourth day, and George, who had 
been slightly irritated by the great man’s almost em- 
barrassing success with Cleve, answered that he couldn’t 
see that it was anything to make a song and dance about. 
She looked at him with affectionate contempt. 

“ He’s a very influential man. You seem to forget that.” 

Except for Ae fact that Cleve preferred being with Mr. 
Halsey to being with himself, George had nothing against 
him, and was pleased that they had encountered him, as 
it had pleased Althea. He was not fond, however, of 
spending long hours, that were only interrupted by meals, 
in talking to people in whom he had merely a slight interest, 
so he walked about the decks by himself a good deal, 
or hand in hand with Cleve, whenever that friendly child 
could be pried loose from some new and fascinating 
acquaintance. 

Now that they were actually on their way to England 
he was finding it easier to adapt himself to the idea of 
change. The boat, an English boat, gave him confidence 
in the future. It was certainly agreeable to order a whisky 
and soda without feeling like a naughty child. He went 
into the library to look for books that would tell him 
something about England, and read part of Green’s 
history of that country, two novels by H. G. Wells, and 
Kipling’s “ Rewards and Fairies.” The history he 
carried about with him during the six days of the voyage, 
but he never got any further with it, to his own disgust, 

18 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

than Richard the Second. His mind seemed to shy away 
from new facts like a horse refusing a five-barred gate. 
Well, he wasn’t going to pretend to be anything but what 
he was, just an average American citizen, and as such he 
had a deeply rooted belief that the world that moved 
dimly and somewhat inefficiently about the rim of the 
American Continent was of only secondary interest and 
importance anyway. This belief, acquired in early child- 
hood, lay, and had always lain, undisturbed at the bottom 
of his mind. He was full of lazy goodwill and certain 
prejudices that did him credit chiefly because they were 
instinctive and not the result of mental effort. Had he 
arrived at them by way of thought they would have re- 
flected unfavourably on his reasoning powers, for there 
was little or no reason in them. 

While Althea talked to Sherman Halsey about a variety 
of things, skimming lightly over sixteenth-century Italian 
furniture, American politics, occultism and the art of Mr. 
Augustus John, George chatted with the purser or the 
ship’s doctor, or watched the wide forked wake of their 
passage through the untroubled Atlantic, or sat and 
listened with a half-awake attention to the other two. It 
always gave him pleasure to watch Althea. She wore on 
most days a neat black coat and skirt, or a grey flannel one 
with a fine blouse underneath the coat and some neat little 
hat pulled well over her eyes. She stood out even among 
other neat and well-groomed women. Her features were 
piquant and decided, her dark eyes far apart and her 
cheek-bones high. Her nose was straight, with adventur- 
ous nostrils, and while her upper lip was too long for 
beauty, it gave her face a look of decision and firmness, 
and closed down firmly over the lower one. When she 
rouged her mouth her face looked hard, and George saw 
this, and tried to discourage the use of rouge, but without 
success. It was difficult to imagine that Althea had ever 
been a child, least of all an untidy, greedy child. Some 
women carry their past youth about with them, so that, 
watching them, one catches glimpses of their childhood, 

19 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

but Althea looked as though she must have been born at 
twenty-five or six. 

Sherman Halsey knew that she didn’t know the right 
people in New York and no one at all in London, because 
she had told him so, with what he saw to be calculated 
frankness. He thought none the worse of her for it, it was 
a misfortune that might happen to anybody. He was a 
kindly worldling, and it gave him pleasure to help a pretty 
woman. He decided that he would introduce her to one 
or two people who might be useful to her, for there would 
be no harm in it, and it might make a great difference to her 
prospects. He was never afraid of burdening himself 
with not-worth-while acquaintances, for he knew quite well 
how to get rid of them if necessary, and he was never 
in one place long enough to be bored. Also he had 
confidence in Althea. She would know better than to 
make more demands on his time or on himself than it 
would be his wish and pleasure to accord. 

As they approached Southampton, Althea’s excite- 
ment communicated itself to George, while Cleve, who had 
made fifty friends, burst into noisy tears when he realized 
they were soon to leave the ship, George took him away, 
for the boy was getting on Althea’s nerves, and they 
stood apart and watched the sailors. Althea had never 
had six uninterrupted days of Cleve before, and she 
hoped she never would again until he attained an age of 
reasonableness. 

Sherman Halsey had been extremely kind to the little 
family. He had told Althea where to go for a house 
and a nurse, had recommended a tailor to George, and 
had offered to put him up at the American Club, one of 
the nine London clubs of which he was a member. As 
they neared the harbour he stood talking to Althea by the 
rail. Low, blue-black clouds presently covered them and 
let down a thin, fine shower which blotted out the land and 
then passed over, leaving an innocent sky, as blue and 
tender as a flower. He lifted his brown, expressionless 
face and sniffed the air. 


20 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ English rain,” he said, and something in his voice 
made Althea glance quickly at him, for it was the first 
time she had observed in him any sign of sentiment or 
emotion. 

“ You must love England a lot,” she told him, “ to 
include even the rain in your affection.” 

“ Yes,” he replied, “ yes, I do love England.” He 
added, with Oriental solemnity, “ America is my father, 
France my wife, but England is my mother.” 

This somewhat sententious utterance jarred on Althea. 
It had the sound of having been often said by him be- 
fore, and she felt like remarking that he evidently liked 
his relations better than most people did. She only 
smiled appreciatively, however, for he was, as she had 
told George, a very influential man, but he went down 
a few points in her estimation. Successful Americans, 
she reflected, were very often unbearably sentimental 
about their mothers. She had frequently noticed it. 
She thought it was a form of conceit, as though, look- 
ing back and surveying their own triumphs, they had 
come to the conclusion that their mothers must have 
been very remarkable women indeed to have produced 
men of such calibre. 

She crossed the gang-plank later with a hope that 
they had forgotten nothing, and a fervent wish that 
Cleve would walk properly, and not drag upon her 
hand in his eagerness to look back at the monster that 
had just disgorged them, and which now lay in the dock 
forgetful of them, showing only its steep, awful and 
unfamiliar sides. But George was sharply aware of 
placing his feet for the first time on English earth, and 
the thought moved him and stirred his emotions. He 
was in that little old island from which his ancestors 
had sprung, the land of the pound sterling, for which 
he had a considerable respect, and the consciousness 
of these things made that landing significant and memor- 
able. His thoughts were soon scattered by the business 
of finding their places in the train, and when they had 

21 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

settled themselves and their belongings, he opened The 
Times which he had bought on the platform, and Althea 
looked out of the window and Cleve slept. 

He thought The Times was probably as typical of 
England as anything could be. There was nothing 
to catch the eye on the front pages, and when one found 
that for which one searched, one found calm impar- 
tiality and statements of a wholly unprovocative nature 
set forth as unstrikingly as possible. Murders, wars. 
Parliaments, weddings — they were all presented in the 
same dignified and restrained manner. It was a paper 
that seemed to say, “There is never anything really 
new or worth getting excited about, whatever the other 
dailies say. The play goes on, the scenes are shifted 
from time to time, but the actors and the plot remain 
very much the same.” He thought it decidedly un- 
stimulating and dull, but perhaps people in England 
didn’t expect to be stimulated for twopence, only in- 
formed. 

Presently Althea called his attention to the country- 
side through which they were passing, and he put down 
his paper, and was charmed by the fie|ds and woods 
and villages of Hampshire. Late primroses, like dappled 
sunlight, ornamented the banks along the line, and now 
and again, in woods of lettuce green, they saw a wash 
of blue, which Althea told him was the blue of wild 
hyacinths. It was a day of small showers and mov- 
ing clouds and sudden bursts of sunlight, and George 
saw the country at its prettiest and gentlest. He thought 
the towns drea^ul, with their rows of yellow-brick houses, 
but he liked the farms and villages, and the churches 
that raised square Norman towers above the trees. He 
said they were very artistic. Althea winced at this, with 
a face of pain. 

“ Not that word, George, I beseech you ! If you must 
call them something, call them picturesque, though that’s 
bad enough.” 

“ Why, what’s wrong with artistic ? ” he mildly inquired. . 

22 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ It’s a word that went out when Turkish cosy corners 
went out, and gilded bulrushes, and hair receivers.” 

He was accustomed to being corrected by Althea 
in this way, and took no exception to it. He knew 
that she was better informed than he, quicker to take 
things up and drop them again when they were out of 
date, more au courant, as she would have put it, with 
what people were doing and thinking. And for a wife 
to put her husband right in such matters seemed to him 
natural and proper. The world of abstract ideas, of 
literature, of art, the world of all the graces, was, in 
his opinion, the world of women and of womanish men. 
He was quite willing to be told, and to remember if he 
could, what she said, but he was satisfied that such know- 
ledge as he had of these things should filter down to him 
through her. 

Cleve presently awoke, refreshed, and began asking 
questions. An elderly Englishwoman who, with her 
husband, occupied the opposite seats in the Pullman, 
watched him with smiling interest and indulgence, and 
presently answered one of his inquiries. The child, 
delighted at making a new acquaintance, got down from 
his seat at her invitation and stood beside her, leaning 
against her knee. He continued to ask questions which 
it evidently amused her to answer, and she smiled re- 
assuringly to Althea, who was afraid the boy was becoming 
a bore. 

” American children are so friendly,” she said, raising 
her voice a little. “ They’re not in the least shy, hke our 
children.” 

Although she realized this was intended as a com- 
pliment, Althea took it quite otherwise, and felt em- 
barrassed. She made up her mind that she would have 
a good English nurse for him before she’d been in the 
country a week. She raised her eyes to the suitcases 
on the rack over their heads, and saw on one of them 
the name Lord Beauvais, with an address in Shrop- 
shire.. The passenger list had told her that a Lord and 

23 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Lady Beauvais were on board the Olympic, but she hadn’t 
set eyes on them until this moment. One never did see 
people of their sort, she reflected, until too late. She 
was more than ever afraid that Cleve was becoming 
tiresome, and summoned him back to her side with 
thanks and apologies. She and the elderly couple talked 
a little in a wholly impersonal fashion, and when the 
train entered the station Lady Beauvais wished them a 
pleasant stay in England. 

“ We’re likely to be here a long time,” said George, 
who had not yet spoken to them." ” A year or two, 
anyhow.” And she replied : 

“ Ah, indeed ? How delightful ! Good-bye. Good- 
bye, little man,” and Lord Beauvais bowed and smiled. 

” If we’d met them on the ship and talked every day, 
1 don’t suppose she’d have said more than that,” Althea 
thought, by way of consoling herself for what seemed 
a lost opportunity. They were, when one noticed them 
at all, a handsome, dignified couple. She wondered 
if they had a very wonderful place, and if they were 
really important people or merely titled. It made her 
a little hot to think of the way Cleye had leaned against 
her and clutched her knee with his undiscriminating 
little hands. George, who had caught her whisper, 
” They’re Lord and Lady Beauvais,” also wondered 
about them, and it amused him to take mental note of 
the fact that they were the first titled people, with the 
exception of a Canadian baronet, to whom he had ever 
spoken. He wondered if they had always seemed as 
much the two halves of a whole as they did now, or how 
many storms they had weathered in the past, and how 
many infidelities she had had to forgive him. Old 
couples such as this one always confirmed his already 
strong, if unthinking, belief in the indestructibility of 
marriage. 

He didn’t think much of the station, for he was used 
to the spotless grandeur of the Grand Central and the 
Pennsylvania Terminus, but Althea said that most 

24 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

European stations were ugly and that he would soon 
get used to it. While their trunks were being piled on 
the hotel omnibus, Sherman Halsey came up to say 
good-bye. His valet was attending to his luggage, so 
he was at leisure to talk to them. He had a flat in St. 
James’s Street, where everything would be in readiness 
for him. The actual business of travelling meant little 
to Sherman Halsey, and he anticipated nothing worse 
from it than the rare and unlikely ordeal of an uncom- 
fortable bed. He left the station first, after saying that 
he would see them again in a few days, and as he went 
Althea observed : 

He’s a nice little creature. I believe I might get 
quite fond of him.” She never displayed, even to George, 
any feelings of triumph she might have, and it pleased 
her to diminish, in a few words, those who, socially, 
towered above her. 

Presently they too left the station, and George found 
himself in a city that seemed to him, because it was 
totally strange, quite formless and characterless. He 
let himself be borne along without trying to gather any 
impressions, and watched Althea, who, alert and excited, 
her memory stimulated by objects that she recognized, 
kept turning her head this way and that, and crying out : 

” Look, George, that’s Trafalgar Square, and the 
Nelson Monument. Look, Cleve, see that man right 
up on the top. Now we’re in Cockspur Street. In 
a minute we’ll be in Piccadilly, where all the clubs are. 
And that’s Green Park over there. Isn’t it green and 
lovely? Fd no idea I’d remember so much. Picca- 
dilly ! Just think of seeing darling Piccadilly again. 
And the dear old red omnibuses. . . . Goodness me ! 
I don’t believe they’ve changed a thing. Oh, yes, they 
have, they’ve torn down that nice old house that used 
to be there, I’ve forgotten its name. What a shame ! ” 

They were held up at Berkeley Street. 

” Hello ! ” exclaimed George, “ there’s a London 
policeman. That’s the first one I’ve seen.” 

25 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ My dear George, we’ve passed dozens, I should 
think.” 

“ Well, it’s the first one I’ve noticed. They call them 
Bobbies, Cleve.” 

“ Why do they call them Bobbies, papa ? Why do 
they ? ” , 

” Now he’s going to let us go on. Look, he’s got 
white things on his sleeves so it’s easier to see when he 
holds up his hand.” 

“ But why do they call them Bobbies, papa ? Why do 
they ? ” 

“ Oh, just for fun, I guess. Don’t the automobiles 
look queer and difierent ? Look, there goes a Rolls.” 

Althea said, her eyes very bright : 

“ Why couldn’t we buy a Rolls while we’re over here, 
George ? We could sell it again when we go back home. 
I’ve always longed for a Rolls.” 

“ We’ll see, ’’answered George, 

When they reached the hotel he looked up at its modest 
front with disfavour. 

“It doesn’t look like much. I think we ought to 
have gone to the Ritz, or that other place, Claridge’s.” 

“ It’s all right,” Althea assured him. “ You . can’t 
judge an}dhing by the outside in this country. Your 
mother and I stayed here for nearly a month. Besides, 
I didn’t want to take Cleve to one of those big places.” 

“ All right. You know best. Out we get, then.” 

Sherman Halsey’s eyes would have taken pleasure in 
the sight of the little family at the hotel desk, Althea 
alert, watchful, impatient of any delay, George quiet, 
good-humoured, inclined to be deliberate in his move- 
ments and speech, and Cleve, his big head revolving 
wonderingly on his little shoulders while he tugged at 
Althea’s hand and kicked with his little square-toed 
shoes, until Althea stopped him, at the wood of the desk. 

“ Mama, is this a ’utel ? Oh, Mama, I’m so tired ! 
Can’t I have a n’ice cream soda ? Mama, can’t I ? I’m 
so thirsty. Please, can’t I ? ” 


26 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Cleve, don’t whine like that. We’re going up- 
stairs in just a minute, as soon as your father finishes 
talking. And then you’ll have your supper in bed. Now 
be a good boy.” 

“ He’s tir^, poor little kid,” said George, turning 
toward them. “ Come on. He says we’re on the third 
floor, but I guess that means the fourth. Come on, 
Cleve. We’re going up in the elevator now, see ? ” 

“ They’re called lifts in England,” said Althea. “ A 
much better, shorter word, too.” 

The lift man smiled at them in a friendly way. He 
had so often heard these comments before. 


27 



CHAPTER JIl 


To have said, by the end of June, that Althea knew her way 
about London would have been to state only half the truth. 
She knew London better than many Londoners. She knew 
the different social values of the various “ good ” districts, 
values hardly discernible to the ordinary observer. George 
discovered this when they were looking for a house. He 
imagined, vaguely, that everybody who could afford it 
wanted to live in or near Park Lane, but Althea soon put 
him right about this, and he learned that there were other 
neighbourhoods equally desirable and less obvious. 

“ I suppose you mean those squares, Portman Square 
and Grosvenor Square and Cavendish Square ? ” 

“ Well, they’re good addresses, of course, but I think 
they’re a little bit obvious too.” 

“ What about Mayfair ? What about Berkeley Square ? 
Isn’t all that part supposed to be pretty good ? ” 

“ Oh, yes. But I don’t know. I think some of these 
young writers have popularized Mayfair till it’s almost 
vulgar. I rather like the North side of the park. A lot of 
the quieter sort of smart people are going there, I believe. 
And there are lots of nice houses.” 

“ Isn’t Kensington a good place ? ” 

“ It certainly is not. It’s too sort of suburban and what 
they call stuffy here, which means terribly respectable. 
It’s the sort of place retired Colonels go to die. Knights- 
bridge I like. I think I’d as soon live there as anywhere. 
It’s near good shops and it’s close to the park, for Cleve, 
and the agent says he can give me the addresses of some 
really good houses there. I thought when I was here 
before that I’d like to live in Knightsbridge.” 

In Althea’s opinion Knightsbridge was not only “ good ” 
but non-committal. One could live in Knightsbridge, 
she believed, and be either smart or intelligent or both, 

28 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

according to the circle in which one eventually found 
oneself. But she didn’t bother to explain all this to 
George. 

“ Well,” he said, you know best. Fm game to live 
anywhere provided I can get to the office inside of forty-five 
minutes.” 

She found a fairly large, airy and sparsely but well- 
furnished house in Wilton Crescent. So sparsely furnished 
was it that she saw she would have the pleasure of buying 
certain things — period pieces — ^that she could either sell at 
the end of their stay or take back to America. The rent 
was a little less than half what they themselves asked and 
got for the apartment in New York. 

George liked the house very well. He liked its un- 
crowded rooms, its high ceilings, its almost up-to-date 
central heating, its good open fireplaces and its breakfast- 
room overlooking a garden which, when they first saw it, 
was full of irises. It was flagged with broken paving- 
stones, and although it was narrow, a central pool con- 
taining a lead fountain gave it a spurious air of size. 
Beside the high brick walls surrounding this garden were 
beds of herbaceous plants which showed as yet only their 
leaves : campanulas, phlox, lupins and delphinium. George, 
who had left Althea on the second floor, walked about here 
smoking. He thought it a decided advantage to have a 
garden in London, even though it was somewhat over- 
looked, and he wondered what Cleve would say when he 
discovered the presence of gold-fish in the pool. It struck 
him that they would be able to keep a small dog. The 
boy had never had a dog of his own, and he would be able 
to take it with him into the park, where he was at the 
moment with a pleasant but somewhat elderly nurse. He 
needed, George considered, something or someone to 
play with, to make him run about. 

He heard Althea calling, and turned to see her beckoning 
to him from the doorway. She had a pencil and paper in 
her hand, and on her face a look of resolution. There had 
been two days of almost oppressive heat, and she wore a 

29 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

big black hat and a thin chiffon dress such as women wear 
in London the moment the weather gives them an excuse 
to do so. 

It was the third time Althea had been over the house, 
and there were no fresh discoveries to be made. She was 
now making a note of the things she wished to speak to the 
agent about. 

He followed her into the drawing-room. The rugs were 
rolled up and pushed against the wall, and the bare parquet 
floor shone like a lake. The furniture, grouped in the 
centre of the room, was covered with white dust-sheets, and 
the chandeliers were shrouded in muslin bags, but she had 
already examined each piece of furniture and could have 
made a rough guess at the number of lustres in each 
chandelier. 

“ I think we had better decide now,” she said. “ Here 
are the drawbacks. There are only three bathrooms, two 
for us and one for the servants, but I suppose we can 
manage. The gas stove in the kitchen is tiny, only four 
burners, but I suppose we can have a bigger one put in. 
.1 won’t use the coal range. The food has to be carried up 
to the nursery, because the dumb waiter only goes as far 
as the dining-room, but English servants must be used to 
that sort of thing.” It occurred to hei to wonder whether 
they were called dumb waiters in England or food lifts, 
and she made up her mind to find out at once. “ Other- 
wise it’s a very good house. Even the basement is quite 
decent. And all the bedrooms are nice. In most of the 
houses I’ve seen here there’s been one good bedroom and 
all the rest have been like pigsties. There’s a day and a 
night nursery for Cleve, too. I don’t believe we could do 
better than this if we looked for a year.” 

“ Well,” said George, “ it’s all right as far as I’m con- 
cerned. It’s you and Cleve that matter. I like the garden. 
Qeve can keep a dog here, Althea.” 

“ Yes. I suppose he could.” She went on, “ It isn’t a 
high rent, even for London. I do like these green walls, 
{jicked out in gold. I’m sick to death of white walls. 

30 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Let’s go to the agent now and fix everything up. I’m wild 
to get out of the hotel and get settled.” 

“ All right, that suits me. When we’re through with the 
agents we might go and have lunch somewhere. What do 
you say ? ” 

She said she couldn’t. She was going out to lunch with 
Sherman Halsey’s friend, Mrs. Monash. She had told him 
yesterday, but he had evidently forgotten. 

George was disappointed. He seldom left the City — he 
was ceasing, at Althea’s request, to call it down-town — in 
the middle of the day, and now that he had he wanted to 
lunch with her. He was wearing a new grey suit made by 
the tailor Sherman Halsey had recommended, and he was 
pleased with it, and more in the mood, this warm June 
day, for dalliance than business. However, he returned to 
the City after the house question was settled, and Althea 
went off in a taxi to keep her engagement. 

He had accustomed himself to London life with greater 
ease and quickness than he had believed possible. At the 
same time he frankly missed New York, unlike Althea, who 
seemed now to look upon their life there as a sort of purga- 
tory, He missed his friends, he missed the people who, 
though they were not quite his friends, impinged upon his 
daily life and helped to make it the very tolerable business 
it was for him : the typists and other members of the office 
staff, particularly the head office boy, with whom he was in 
the habit of exchanging items of baseball news ; his Italian 
boot-black ; the cripple from whom he bought his papers ; 
the head waiter of the Ambassadors’ Restaurant ; a certain 
gentleman approached by a side door and a pass-word who 
supplied him with drinks ; his chauffeur, Olson, an impudent, 
indifferent but skilful Swede, to whom he paid the sort of 
salary described as princely. He missed their apartment 
and the elaborate fittings of his bathroom, where he was 
provided with every conceivable kind of bath, shower, 
douche, spray or wave yet invented by whoever does invent 
the compheated luxuries that play such a part in American 
life. 


31 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

It surprised him to find that although men came to their 
offices in the City later and left them earlier, they neverthe- 
less got through as much in a day as did the average business 
man in New York. The work seemed to him more con- 
centrated, there was less sociability, less “ treating,” less 
badinage; interviews were briefer and more direct, with 
fewer unnecessary words. He found much politeness and 
an almost embarrassing admiration of American methods 
and American efficiency. 

He found, and had fully expected to find, a natural but 
gradually weakening prejudice against articles of American 
manufacture. The goods were there, on the market, and 
were bought in ever-increasing quantities, not because they 
were necessarily better, but because they were more 
practical and cheaper. English manufacturers were still 
making goods, he discovered, with the idea that they must 
last. American manufacturers kept a shrewd and watchful 
eye on the rapid changes and development in every branch 
of business and industry. ‘‘ You want this to-day, but you 
will want something different to-morrow, and we will have 
it,” they seemed to say. They not only satisfied present 
needs, they stimulated fresh ones. 

George’s office furniture and fittings were manufactured 
on this plan. They were the last word in ingenious prac- 
ticability. He was naif about his office furniture. He 
believed in it, admired it, loved it. He had believed in 
it when, on leaving the University, a rich aunt had died 
and left him twenty-five thousand dollars. He had 
promptly and courageously invested it in this small but 
growing business, and had become first a director, then 
chairman, and his was now the controlling interest. The 
Goodall filing system, the Goodall revolving chairs, the 
Goodall desks and bookcases — he would have gone to the 
stake declaring these things to be the best of their kind in 
the world. 

He was glad now that Althea had made him come to 
England. He saw that the job was bigger than he or any 
of the directors had imagined, and while Howard Peters 

32 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

was, a good routine man, he lacked initiative. Moreover 
there was a certain crudeness and rawness about him that 
might have antagonized men who were neither amused nor 
impressed by the jocular “ Oh, Boy I ” type of citizen. 

Althea, he reflected, as he ate his lonely lunch at the 
“ Star and Vulture,” was surprisingly often right. She 
knew precisely the right moment for doing the right thing. 
She had a positive genius for not making blunders. She 
had been quite right about Cleve. He had needed dis- 
cipline, and needed it badly. He was already quieter, 
sweeter, more amenable to suggestion. He was not yet 
fond of his nurse, but he was beginning to show a desire 
to propitiate and please her. His parents were the only 
people in authority he showed affection for, but he now 
recognized her inevitability and the startling fact that his 
parents were on her side. There was one thing he definitely 
liked, and that was being taken out on the rainiest days 
dressed in his little waterproof coat and hat, and the water- 
proof trousers that fastened under his rubber-covered shoes. 
This seemed to him adventurous and exciting. 

But although George had adapted himself readily to his 
new surroundings, he nevertheless looked upon his stay in 
England as a term of agreeable imprisonment. He looked 
forward to returning to New York within two years, and 
allowing his place to be taken by someone else. By that 
time the European end of the business ought to be running 
smoothly. He bought and read the Saturday Evening Post 
each week with unfailing regularity, and each week he 
nearly disappeared under an untidy pile of American 
illustrated Sunday papers, for he wished to keep as closely 
in touch with America as possible. It was sometimes more 
than Althea could do to refrain from acid comment when 
he spent more than one evening employed in this way. 

She, on the contrary, read the English papers and 
magazines. She read The Times, the Spectator, the New 
Statesman, the Tatler, the Bystander, and the Sketch. She 
joined the Times Book Club, and brought home such works 
as “ The Rise of Modem Industry,” “ The Letters of Queen 

33 


B 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Victoria,” and “ The Farringdon Diary,” and George won- 
dered a little at the speed with which she got through them. 
She also read the more “ important ” novels, studying the 
reviews with some care, but she confined herself, George 
noticed, to English works of fiction, excepting only the 
works of Sinclair Lewis. 

It seemed to George, at about this time, that he and 
Althea were finding more things to differ about than they 
had found before. There was the matter of the pie, for 
instance. They had not long been settled in Wilton Crescent 
before a thing called a deep-dish tart began to appear on 
the table. It was very nice, George had no fault to find 
with it, for he was not at all a fussy man, and in all proba- 
bility nothing would have been said but for the fact that 
Althea one day remarked that the English deep-dish tart 
was in every way superior to the American pie. George 
challenged this, almost with indignation. 

” There’s no comparison,” he said, “ in my opinion. 
There’s too much juice in this and not enough crust. 
There’s only that thin piece on the top, that you may or 
may not get your proper share of. Why, down in the 
City when I ask for apple pie they give me some stewed 
apple with a little triangular piece of cold pie crust laid 
alongside, and I’ll bet the two never met until they were 
handed to me on a plate. I don’t call that a pie.” 

” I don’t know anything about that,” said Althea. 
“ I’ve never seen that kind, but I do think that a tart like 
this, the way Mrs. Thompson makes it, is far more digest- 
ible. You don’t get that horrible, soggy under-crust that’s 
so unwholesome.” 

” Well, I don’t think you can beat the American pie,” 
George replied. • “’And I don’t know about unwholesome. 
I guess I’ve eaten my share of them, and Fve darned little 
cause to complain about my health.” 

“ Your health may be all right, but you know perfectly 
well that Americans are the most dyspeptic race of people 
in the world. And I believe it’s the hot breads, the ice 
water and those unwholesome pies.” 

34 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

George didn’t continue the argument. He didn’t like 
arguing, he believed in stating his opinion and then leaving 
it at that, but he felt that what Althea had said was almost 
treasonable, and it hurt him. It had always seemed to him 
that the American pie was the last word in pie evolution. 
If you attacked the pie you attacked the constitution of the 
United States. He knew it was ridiculous to mind such 
trifles, but the fact was that he was a little disturbed by 
Althea’s readiness to adopt English ways and customs. 
He had no objection to English customs, qua customs, but 
they seemed to him suited to English people, and as they 
were only going to live in England a year or so — he now 
thought about that time of durance as a year or so — it 
wasn’t worth while learning new ways that would have to 
be unlearned again — if they didn’t want to be laughed at — 
when they got back. He knew that Althea was taking 
great care not to commit Americanisms, such as telling 
people that she was pleased to meet them, or pleased to 
have met them, for these disarming phrases would, from 
time to time, slip out. She was also careful to speak of 
him as “ My husband ” to strangers, and as “ George ” to 
friends, never as “ Mr, Goodall.” She took him to task 
one day for introducing her to a casual City acquaintance. 

“ It isn’t done here,” she said. “ An introduction ought 
to mean something. You ought to introduce people 
because you want them to meet, not because they happen 
to be standing within a few yards of each other. For 
instance, if I’m v!^th Mrs. Monash, and she meets a Mrs. 
Snooks whom she met by chance at the Casino at Cannes, 
and Mrs. Snooks speaks to her, there’s no earthly reason 
why she should introduce me to Mrs. Snooks. I don't 
want to meet her. I don’t want to have to bow to her 
when I see her again. She’s nothing to me. There’s no 
point in it.” 

” Well, it seems to me rude not to, all the same,” George 
insisted. 

” All this casual introducing is a purely American habit,” 
she said. “ It’s nervousness, partly. It’s because we don’t 

35 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

know how to act in the presence of people we haven’t met. 
The English way isn’t rude, it’s far more thoughtful for 
others. And here an introduction has some meaning.” 

“ I guess everything that’s English seems right to you,” 
said George a little sadly, and she replied : 

“ Well, George, you’ll find that there’s usually a pretty 
good reason for everything the English do or don’t do.” 

The first of August found them still in London. Althea 
had met a good many people by that time, most of them, 
it is true, Americans living in London — they seemed to be 
legion — and the American wives of EngUshmen, who also 
seemed to be legion. But Mrs. Monash, Sherman Halsey’s 
friend, was an Englishwoman, and a tower of strength, and 
Althea had already met a number of her friends, and ex- 
pected to meet more in the autumn. They had arrived in 
the naidst of the season, when most people’s plans were made, 
and their engagement books full, but Mrs. Monash had 
been as kind as possible, and had done as much for Althea 
as she could before going off to Goodwood, Cowes and 
then Scotland. Althea had an uneasy feeling that she 
ought to be doing the same things, but she would have to 
wait until next year, and even then it might be difiScult, 
because of George. 

She liked men to be busy, she thought every husband 
should leave the house about nine and come back about six. 
It was best for them and best for their wives, for it gave 
them time to attend to their own affairs — the care of the 
person, clothes, and the pursuit of those who pursued the 
arts. She would have preferred George to come home 
earlier on Fridays, however, to allow for more spacious 
week-ends, and to take at least a month off in the winter, 
to follow the sun, and another month or six weeks in the 
summer. All these things he did reluctantly, and under 
pressure, and sometimes he wouldn’t do them at all. 
Holidays troubled his conscience. 

She was convinced that she had done the very best she 
could for herself in marrying George, and it was incon- 
ceivable that George could have got on without her. She 

36 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

had never met a man she liked half as well. He was far 
nicer, far better-looking than any husband she knew, and 
he was quite as successful. Moreover, his ardour was 
unabated : she was still, to him, “ all a wonder and a wild 
desire,’" and while she appreciated this up to a point — for 
it flattered her self-esteem, as it would any woman’s — she 
found it a little exacting. She had her own highly con- 
ventionalized ideas about married life. She had been full 
of suitable ardour herself for the first few months of their 
marriage, but she now considered a diminishing tempo right 
and proper. They were sensible people, they loved each 
other, they got on very well indeed ; it was natural that they 
should now “ take a good deal for granted,” as some of her 
friends put it. 

This coolness increased, if anything, George’s love for 
her. If she were capricious, if she sometimes turned his 
love-making aside with the armour of her common sense, 
if she were unresponsive to the point of indifference, it was 
because she was the very best type of American woman, and 
American women were not, first and foremost, interested in 
love, like French or Italian or Austrian women. They 
were better balanced, more refined, more highly civilized. 
So George sincerely believed. 

He did not realize that it is the cold and unstirred who 
are the romantics, and the ardent, impulsive ones who are 
the realists. Althea, though he had not yet discovered it, 
was a romantic. Whether he saw her in the actinic rays of 
early morning or across a candle-lit dinner-table, she was 
the same mysterious and fascinating being, and the natural 
scent of her hair was better than any perfume. On the 
other hand, it was impossible for Althea to imagine the 
creature of her dreams — ^and she had her dreams — in the 
act of shaving. A man whose braces were a familiar sight 
to her — only George insisted on calling them suspenders — 
was to be treated coolly and with nice common sense. If 
she had been a Frenchwoman she might have called him 
Mon amiy^ and acquired a lover, but she was an American, 
and dreams are dreams, and such a thought hardly entered 

37 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

her head, though as a matter of fact she did sometimes call 
him “ Mon ami ” very prettily when they were alone at 
dinner. 

George, after frequent urgings on Althea’s part, decided 
that he would be able to leave London for the last two weeks 
of August and the first two weeks of September, and 
suggested that they go to Dinard or Le Touquet, but 
Althea preferred Biarritz, where a number of her friends 
were going, so to Biarritz they went, leaving a small grey 
dog to be taken care of by Mrs. Thompson. They spent 
two days in Paris, and Althea found that two days in Paris 
in the middle of August were quite enough, so they proceeded 
to their destination, and were absorbed into a great hotel 
facing the sea, where there were Americans, English, 
Spaniards, a few French, and the Hon. Francis Mortlake. 


38 



CHAPTER IV 


It was the first of October, and London was ceasing 
to be what snobbish people call empty. Its crowds 
had been for the past two months more cosmopolitan 
and drab. The city’s pulse had slowed down to below 
normal. The grass in the parks was worn and tired 
looking, the trees’ green brilliance was dimmed, their 
leaves, from which the sap was reluctantly retiring, 
showed brown, curled edges. The papers, now that 
smart people had gone away, made less fuss about the 
weather, as though the sun only shone to please the 
fashionable, and the rain only rained to annoy them. 
But all that was changed now. The streets hummed 
with luggage-laden taxis, and the Goodalls had been 
home two weeks. 

It had been a dull two weeks for the lively and 
pleasure-loving Althea, as not a soul she knew was in 
London. She filled in the grey interval, however, with 
buying additional furniture for the house and visiting 
the picture galleries, her failure to go earlier having 
troubled her conscience a little. 

She had been very sorry to leave Biarritz. It had 
been gay, and was about to become even gayer. Mary 
Monash was planning to spend ten days more there, 
and Francis Mortlake was staying on till the end of 
September. Althea, having a busine^ man for a husband, 
was obliged to return owing to Europe’s need of up- 
to-date office furniture, and she resented it a little, but 
she didn’t seriously consider letting George go back 
alone, although he suggested it himself. What would 
he do all by himself in London, in a house where the 
servants were little more than strangers to him, and he 
to them? And she thought it good policy to go while 
one or two people — Francis Mortlake in particular — 

39 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

were imploring her to stay. Of such mixed motives is 
the reluctant execution of our duty often made up. 

The duller, shorter days, the colder winds, were not 
unwelcome to her, for they gave her a brisk and agree- 
able feeling of being about to start her life afresh. George 
felt the same. He disliked the unsettling effect of summer, 
and the demands made upon his time. He had enjoyed 
the swimming at Biarritz, but what he really liked 
was golf, and he could play golf just as well in the 
winter. What he heard about the nnildness of Eng- 
lish winters — their mildness out of doors — encouraged 
him. 

Althea had been shopping this first day of October, 
and she came home about four with a large bunch of 
flame-coloured dahlias in her arms. She was skilful 
at arranging flowers — one of those minor arts at which 
women often, and without effort, excel — and she realized 
that the green and gold drawing-room, with the curtains 
of dull gold damask, needed little in the way of embel- 
lishment, so she arranged the dahlias formally in three 
glass bowls of similar size and shape, and placed one 
on a table behind the sofa, another on a small consul 
table between two mirrors, and one in the window, 
where it caught the late afternoon light. As she put 
this one in its place, she saw, with an exquisite shock 
of pleasure, that Francis Mortlake’s dignified and some- 
what ancient Rolls had just stopped at the door. He 
disliked fast driving and fast cars, or cars that looked 
as though they belonged to rich young Guardsmen. 
His own looked as though it might have belonged to a 
retired Chief Justice. The sight of it brought back 
overwhelmingly his own personality, which, in these 
two weeks, had been eluding her, and the very tones 
of his voice, and she fled up the stairs to tidy herself 
and wash her hands, feeling as though she had already 
seen him and spoken to him. She had been looking 
forward to this moment ever since leaving Biarritz, The 
time of waiting had seemed interminable, and now that 

40 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

he had come it seemed hardly to have existed. She 
was not in love, but Francis was exciting and stimulating 
and amusing, and it was so extraordinary and so for- 
tunate that they had met. And now he was here, and 
thank heaven, she thought, Grieves and Cotter were 
wearing their new uniforms for the first time, prune- 
coloured dresses with caps and aprons of deep cream. 
For, like most women, she imagined that men observed 
these things, crediting them with noticing what they 
noticed themselves, and forgetting that their eyes were 
busy in quite other ways. She told Grieves, who came 
to announce him, that she was not at home this after- 
noon to anyone else. She passed a comb through her 
hair and then brushed it hard to make it lie close to her 
head and give it gloss, and she smoothed her dress about 
the hips with a reasonable satisfaction. Then she went 
downstairs and pushing open the door which Grieves 
had left ajar, she crossed the room to meet her caller 
with that erect, proud carriage that was the first thing 
men noticed about her. 

After a handshake and a word or two of greeting, they 
moved toward the fireplace, where a small fire burned in 
a high, eighteenth-century grate. 

It’s nice of you to come and see me so soon, Francis,” 
she said. “ How are you ? ” 

He laughed a little as though he were amused at himself 
and at her. 

“ Me ? I’m all right. What do you mean by ‘ nice 
of me ’ ? What absurd things you women say, don’t 
you ? Of course I came soon. I got back last night, 
after a foul crossing. There were about seven train- 
loads of people on the boat.” 

“ It was the same when we crossed. No, don’t sit 
there, take that comfortable chair.” 

“ What a nice house you’ve got ! Whose is it ? ” 

“ Oh ... I don’t know.” She was thinking that 
he was certainly no less attractive than he had seemed 
to her in Biarritz. “ Some people called Trueman. 

41 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

I don’t know anything about them. Tell me, Francis, 
did Mary come back with you ? ” 

“ No. She gets back on Friday. She stopped over 
in Paris. How’s George ? And how’s Clcve ? ” 

“ All right. George is terribly busy. Everybody in 
England seems to want a Goodall filing cabinet at the 
same moment.” 

“ George won’t mind that.” 

No. Tell me, Francis . . . What was it I wanted 
to ask you ? Oh, yes, you didn’t mind my not answer- 
ing your letter, did you? It was nice of you to write 
and tell me the news.” 

He laughed again, looking at her with eyes of amused 
speculation. 

I didn’t tell you any news.” 

“ Well, that was a facon de parler if you like. You 
didn’t mind, did you ? I told you I probably 
wouldn’t.” 

“ Yes, of course I minded. I wanted to hear how you 
got home, what the Channel was like, how Cleve behaved, 
and all that sort of thing.” 

“You see, if I’d written to you at all, that’s exactly 
the sort of letter I would have written, so I didn’t 
write.” 

“ Yes, but that’s exactly the sort of letter I was expect- 
ing from you. What else ? ” 

“ Oh, well, but, Francis, I can do better than that . . . 
when I want to.” 

“ My dear Althea, if I thought you couldn’t, would I 
be here ? ” 

“ Wouldn’t you ? ” 

“ I would not. A woman incapable of writing the 
other sort of letter wouldn’t look, act, dress and talk 
as I expect any lady I take tea with to look, dress, act 
and talL” 

“ How ridiculous you are, Francis ! Did you have an 
amusing time in Biarritz after I left ? ” 

“ No.” 


42 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Why not ? ” 

“ Who’s being ridiculous now ? ” 

“ But Mary was there, and no end of amusing people.” 

“ You forget I’ve known dear Mary more than twenty 
years.” 

“ Still, it’s such a heavenly place. I believe I could be 
happy there all by myself,” 

He wasn’t listening. She saw his eyes fix themselves 
on some object over her head. 

“ Althea, I believe that’s a Renoir. It is a Renoir.” 
He got up and went to look at the picture behind her, 
while she turned her head and watched him. “ Whose 
is it ? Is it yours ? ” 

“ No, alas, it isn’t. It belongs to the house.” Renoir 
. . . Renoir . . . was he one of the very moderns, 
or did he belong to those advanced and brilliant eighteen- 
eighties she was beginning to read about? She ought 
to have known it was a good picture, but she had thought 
it looked as though it had been painted by a clever child, 
and had nearly banished it, only she had liked its colours 
against the green wall. 

Francis, after studying the picture for some minutes, 
turned towards her again. 

“ It’s extraordinary, isn’t it, that fellows like Renoir 
and Cezanne and Van Gogh and Degas were painting 
as they did while we were still worshipping Landseers 
and Leightons here ? I wasn’t, thank God. I was 
just about to be born. I missed the worst of that period. 
And here, in this country, it’s only lately that these fellows 
have been understood.” 

“ They were certainly ahead of their time,” said Althea. 
She had placed Renoir and those others now, forever. 
“ I’ve been going to the galleries a lot since I’ve been 
back. I went to the Tate yesterday.” 

Francis returned to his chair. 

“ You haven’t been with me, so you’ll have to go again. 
Does George like pictures ? ” 

“ He doesn’t even see them. I’ve tried hard to interest 

43 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

him in painting, and art generally, but it isn’t a bit of 
good. He just doesn’t care a thing about it.” 

“ Why should he ? He’s very nice as he is. I like 
George.” 

“ I adore George,” she said quickly, “ but I do wish 
he wasn’t such a Philistine, bless his heart. He’s just 
like most American men.” 

“ Well, I wouldn’t try to change him if I were you.” 

“ But, Francis, he’d be so much more companion- 
able if he cared a little for the things I like, art and 
music and literature. They simply don’t exist for him.” 

“ My dear Althea, if you try to change George now 
he’ll begin looking for someone who doesn’t know a 
Botticelli from a Bateman. Or, if by some miracle 
you did succeed in changing him, he’d probably run off 
with an artist’s model from Chelsea. Leave George 
alone. He’s all right as he is. After all, you can always 
come to me for culture.” 

Such remarks as this never failed to amuse and please 
Althea. They made her laugh, and provoked retorts, 
and although they were only meant -to amuse and pro- 
voke, it seemed to her that under their provocative bold- 
ness lay a germ of real feeling. 

“ I probably will,” she returned. “ That’s precisely 
where the danger lies.” Then she hastened to ask, 
“ But, Francis, why is it that it never seems to matter 
much about a woman’s education, and it matters so 
terribly about a man’s? George went to a University, 
but he managed to get through because he was a good 
football player and a good rower. He never worked, 
he never really studied. Still he had a much better 
education than I had. What I’ve learnt about litera- 
ture and art I’ve taught myself, since I’ve been grown 
up. Why do men so rarely make the effort ? ” 

“ It’s because women are so infernally anxious to 
please everybody,” said Francis, who never flattered. 
“ There happen to be a great many men practising the 
arts, and as women like to have artists about them, they 

44 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

have to take a little trouble. A man, on the other hand, 
expects to be liked because he’s kind to animals and can 
wear plus fours without looking a fool, and he’s seldom 
disappointed. But women want to be liked in forty 
different ways by forty different kinds of men, so they 
have to be up and at it.” 

This aroused Althea to defend her sex, a thing she 
rarely took the trouble to do. 

“ That’s nonsense,” she said. “ Women interest them- 
selves in the arts because they love them.” 

Francis only looked at her and laughed, and said : 

“ How I adore artificial women ! ” 

Althea never admitted to artificiality of any sort, and 
she changed the subject. 

“ But to go back to George, I still don’t see why he 
shouldn’t try to like some of the things I like.” 

“ Well,” Francis said, “ if I were a woman. I’d fall 
in love with good shoulder muscles rather than with the 
ability to prattle about the Renaissance.” 

“ I want both,” she answered. “ That’s the trouble.” 

“ I hate generalizations,” Francis remarked. “ But 
I’ve known a lot of American women, and I’ll say this 
about them. They are at one and the same time the 
most intensely practical women in the world in fact, and 
the most romantic in theory. You very wisely married 
good old George, but you probably cherish a sentimental 
belief in elective affinities.” 

“ I do,” she cried. “ I admit it.” 

“ Then you’re inviting a divorce, or a nervous break- 
down, or both.” 

“ I’m not at all a nervous subject, and I wouldn’t 
divorce George for the world. I get a lot of pleasure 
out of thinking about my affinity.” 

“ That proves what I said. I, on the contrary, find 
that nine pretty women out of ten are, or might be, my 
affinities.” 

“ You’ll be the one who’ll have the nervous breakdown, 
then.” 


45 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

They both laughed. Their friendship was at this 
time on the happiest footing. They amused each other, 
it seemed very possible that they might, if either chose, 
fall in love, but Francis was still content to make semi- 
serious advances merely to give Althea the pleasure of 
ignoring them or turning them aside. 

He was precisely the sort of man Althea — who had 
never since her marriage possessed an admirer who 
seemed to her convincing — had longed for. At home, 
George’s friends liked her very much, but they liked her 
tamely, and they were always George’s friends before they 
were hers. And Francis was not only a charming man 
and a man of the world who knew everybody worth know- 
ing, but he was also heir to a peerage, being the son, 
by a quaint coincidence that seemed to Althea highly 
significant, of the Lord Beauvais who had crossed with 
them on the boat. 

Althea, a snob herself, passionately admired and 
approved of a lack of snobbishness in other people, 
and Francis had not an atom of it. She knew she 
would never find a brighter jewel if she were to search 
England over, and she believed she could count on him 
for the dinner-parties she meant to give during the 
autumn and winter. Mary Monash, it was true, had a 
Duke and a Prince as devoted friends, but Princes and 
Dukes were apt to make a woman conspicuous, and 
Althea preferred something quieter in the way of a peer 
or an honourable. 

Altogether it had been the greatest luck meeting him 
at Biarritz. George had met him first, on the golf links, 
and he had taken a liking to George at once, even before 
he saw Althea, which was reassuring. 

It amused Francis to meet new people, particularly 
Americans, and he had a peculiar attraction for American 
women, due partly to his voice with its agreeable and, 
to them, unfamiliar modulations, his knowledge of the 
things they liked to talk about, and his readiness to be 
amused. His birth, his tall figure and his distinguished 

46 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

features — he looked somewhat like Palmerston as a young 
man — did not detract from his charms. He disliked 
games of all sorts, although he occasionally played golf 
with an entire indifference as to whether he won or lost, 
and the only sports he really liked were ski-ing and 
salmon fishing in Norway. He rarely, Althea learned, 
lived at Hawfield Place with his parents, heartily dis- 
liking English country life, and preferring to be in London 
or on the Continent. His sister was married to a French 
diplomat who had recently been sent to Washington, 
and it was to see her that his parents had gone to 
America. 

Francis was a connoisseur of pictures, and painted 
himself, exhibiting occasionally at the Salon. Althea’s 
pretensions amused him and he saw through them per- 
fectly. He liked artificial women, he thought women 
should be artificial, and he often regretted that he had 
not been born in the early part of the eighteenth century, 
when an aristocracy of birth was not yet an anachron- 
ism. The factihat he disliked being the heir to a peerage 
and a large and unwieldy estate was no secret to any- 
body. He hated class-consciousness, whether it was 
found at the top or at the bottom. At the same time 
he was ardently a royalist, and thought England should 
always have a king and queen — more particularly a queen 
— and that the rest of the population should be alternately 
drones and workers. He said that he had discovered 
the real truth about the bees, and that was that they were 
drones half the time and workers the other half, which 
was the only sensible arrangement. 

Althea took very few of his utterances seriously. 
What she didn’t know, and what only his best friends 
knew, was that his income was something like fifteen 
thousand a year, and that he lived on less than three, 
giving the rest to organizations of one sort and another 
and private charities of his own discovering. He also 
put money into the hands of a firm of publishers for 
the translation and puHication of foreign books on art 

47 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

that couldn’t hope to pay their own way. Consequently 
he was considered mean by many of his acquaintances, 
but his friends knew that this income, which had de- 
scended on him at twenty-one, irritated, distressed and 
worried him, and that the thought of spending more 
than a small portion of it on himself was repulsive to 
him. People laughed at his ancient but commodious 
Rolls, with its old-fashioned body, but to Althea« it was 
that eccentric touch that seemed so right and necessary 
in the son of one of England’s oldest families. 

That Francis liked the sort of women he did was a 
cause of wonder to his relations and even, now and 
then, to himsslf. A sophisticated idealist — that is, 
one who dislikes and deplores the present state of 
things but knows too much of human nature to expect 
it to be changed very materially — he disliked idealism 
in the opposite sex, and serious-minded women in- 
evitably put him to hasty and immediate flight. He 
liked actresses on the stage, but when they told him 
off, as they always did, that they took their art seriously, 
he was bored. He liked women who made it their 
business to be decorative. He didn’t even insist that 
they should be amusing; only amiable. Althea appealed 
to his eye, and owing to the fact that he saw through her 
and lik^ what he saw, her poses and her little ambitions 
only entertained and pleased him. 

George, he said, combined simple saintliness and 
salesmanship in an adorable way. He liked men to 
work hard, he thought it right and proper, and he would 
have worked hard Mmself if there had been anything 
to work for; but women, he insisted, should be idle, 
ornamental and kind — ^for kindness was the Christian 
virtue he liked best. 

It was unlikely that Althea could have understood 
him. Not even Mary Monash always understood him^ 
and she had known him for twenty years; nor, in common 
with the rest of mankind, did he understand himself. 
It was natural that Althea should' have misunderstood 

48 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

him, even^to the extent that she did, for no one like him 
had ever come her way before. 

Since knowing Francis, George’s old belief that the 
English, particularly the upper classes, were dull, stand- 
offish and cold, crumbled in a day, as so many prejudices 
do, at a single touch, and when he came home at a quarter 
past six that evening and found Francis there he was 
almost as glad to sec him as he would have been to see 
Howard Peters or Bruce Chapman. He asked him to 
play golf with him on Saturday. 

“No, I can’t,” Francis said, “ I have to go down to 
Hawfield. I haven’t been there since the end of June. 
My father wants me to shoot with him, but I’ve vowed 
a vow never again to raise my gun against bird or beast, 
if I can avoid it.” 

“ Why ? ” Althea asked. It seemed to her almost im- 
moral for a man in his position not to shoot. 

Instead of answering her he said : 

“ It’s curious, isn’t it, this cult of the firearm ? If 
I refuse to shoot birds I’m no sportsman, if I refuse to 
shoot men I’m a conscientious objector. I never could 
see the connection between manliness and things that go 
off with a bang.” 

“ I’ve never shot a man,” George said, “ or even shot 
at one. I didn’t get any farther than the training camp 
in the War.” 

“ I shot two Germans at short range in a dug-out, 
during a raid on their trenches,” said Francis. “ It 
was my last day of fighting, almost the last day of fight- 
ing, just before the Armistice. They were nice-looking 
boys. They may have hoped about that time that they’d 
soon be home.” 

” It sounds awful now, of course,” observed George. 
“ Like murder.” 

” Will you tell your mother about us ? ” asked Althea, 
who disliked talk about the War. “ She might just 
possibly remember us, or Cleve, anyway.” 

” I douj>t it,” he replied. “ My mother’s memory 

49 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

is a family joke. Father might. He’d remember you, 
I think. A pretty woman is still a pretty woman to 
him, even though she is nothing more. Well, I must 
go now. When I come back from Hawfield we’ll have 
a party. I’ll get Mary, and some other people. George, 
here’s that list of addresses I said I’d give you. Every- 
thing from a hatter to a wine merchant. Tell them you 
come from me. It will still further advance the price 
usually reserved for Americans.” 

George went downstairs with him, and Althea stood 
by the fire wondering if Francis had liked her as much 
in London as he had at Biarritz, and feeling that the 
afternoon had somehow been unsatisfactory, though 
she couldn’t quite see how. Now that they were away 
from the more intimate environment of Biarritz, where 
she had seen him every day, he seemed more elusive, 
his life more complicated and unknown and outside her 
scope. She longed to keep him, to make him hers, 
hers as an admirer and devoted friend, nothing more. 
She saw that he was going to be necessary to the success 
and happiness of her life in London. The moment 
he left the room a dullness fell upon it and upon her 
and a hollow silence upon the house, only broken by 
the sudden throbbing of his car outside in the street. 
She wished herself irresistible, utterly, utterly irresistible, 
and sighing a little, she picked up a new book on evolution 
in modern art and began to cut its pages. 


50 



CHAPTER V 


Life had never before held for Althea such adorable 
possibilities. As she looked back on her life in New 
York, it seemed to her that she had merely been one of 
thousands of cave-dwellers inhabiting the cliff-like apart- 
ment-houses through which Park Avenue runs like a river 
in a deep canon; that she had been one of the myriad 
wives of business men, women so similar that she won- 
dered if their thoughts were not group thoughts and their 
emotions those of a race rather than of individuals. And 
now, for the first time, she felt that she stood out, with a 
personality of her own. She could feel herself growing 
and expanding, as though heretofore she had been like a 
small tree stifled in a thick wood. She was developing and 
reaching out, and taking long breaths of a more flattering 
air. Her house suited her and gave her a background, 
while she suited it. She was constantly meeting new 
people and widening her circle, until she felt herself to be 
in contact, at least, with most of the important circles in 
London, for if she didn’t actually know the people in them, 
she knew people who did. 

“ Can’t we dine by ourselves sometimes ? ” George 
asked one evening, when, on returning from the City, 
he was reminded that they were dining with Lady Causton. 

I don’t know why you say ‘ sometimes.’ We were 
alone on Monday night, and we’ll be alone on Saturday 
night, as far as I know now.” 

” I haven’t had a chance to look at the Sunday Herald 
or the Tribune yet.” 

“ You poor darling ! ” She threw him a glance of 
good-humoured sarcasm. “ You’ve got all next Sunday 
to do that.” 

“ I’m playing golf on Sunday with Harry Sullivan.” 

” Who on earth’s he ? ” 


51 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ He’s a fellow I met down-town — in the City. He 
represents a Chicago firm over here. He plays a good 
game, and he belongs to that new club they’ve opened near 
Godaiming.” 

” Brayton Park. Then I suppose you’ll want the car ? ” 

“ Nope. We’re going in his.” 

“ George, for mercy’s sake don’t say nope. You know 
how I hate it.” 

“ Oh, all right. I forgot. You’ll come too, won’t you ? 
You could walk around with us. The country looks great 
now.” 

“ I can’t. I’m lunching with Mary, and we’re going to 
hear some music afterwards. She asked you too.” 

“ Did she ? Well, tell her I can’t come because I’m 
playing golf. I’m sorry, but I need the exercise.” 

“ That’s all right. She never cares how many sit down 
to lunch on Sunday. But, George . . .” 

‘‘ Well?” 

“ Why do you always play with Americans ? You meet 
lots of nice Englishmen who play golf.” 

“ Oh ... I don’t know. I get on all right with them, 
but I like to talk to a Yank when I can. Harry’s kind of 
hard-boiled, but I like him.” 

“ Well, come upstairs now and see Cleve. I told him 
we’d be up about half-past six.” 

Half an hour later, on their way downstairs from the 
nursery, she said : 

“ What am I going to say to Lady Causton about that 
week-end party, December the sixth ? I ought to let her 
know to-night.” 

“ Why, just say anything you like. Fd like to go all 
right, but you know as well as I do I can’t hit those darned 
birds. If she won’t count on me as a gun I don’t mind 
going, but I’m not going to make a fool of myself over a 
few long-tailed pheasants flying at about a mile a minute.” 

They had reached Althea’s bedroom now, a pretty room 
with light blue walls and mulberry-coloured hangings, and 
she began dressing for dinner. George lingered for a few 

52 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

minutes, turning over the pages of a book that was lying 
on her sofa, then he went into his own dressing-room. 
Althea raised her voice to speak to him, her mind still 
ocxupied with the same subject. 

“ Well, you needn’t shoot if you don’t want to, but I 
wish you’d accept. Mary will be there, and perhaps 
Francis — he may not shoot either, you know he doesn’t 
care about it — and I think Lord and Lady Bennington. 
I’m crazy to go. We’ve only been to one English house- 
party, and that was so small it hardly counts. And I can’t 
go if you don’t.” 

“ All right. I’ll go if I don’t have to shoot.” 

“ Of course you won’t have to. But I wish to goodness 
you’d take lessons.” 

He made no reply to that, but presently asked : 

” Is it a big place ? ” 

Whittleworth ? I think it must be. I suppose there 
are about thirty-five or forty bedrooms. It’s lovely 
country there, Francis says, and it’s about the best shoot 
in the South of England. He says the birds come very high 
and fast.” 

” I won’t be present when they come like that. I like 
walking up an old quail and letting fly at it when it’s a 
couple of feet oif the ground, but that’s as far as I go.” 

“ Oh, well, there’ll be plenty of other things to do,” she 
said, slipping into a dressing-gown. “ There’s squash and 
tennis, and I suppose there’ll be a golf course somewhere 
about.” 

I’ll amuse myself all right.” 

“ All the same, George, I do think you might go to a 
shooting school to please me. If we’re going to be here 
two years . . .” 

“ There’s only this autumn to get through, and one 
more. It isn’t worth while.” 

His refusal to shoot really annoyed Althea. Men ought 
to shoot. It was all right for Francis to be slightly eccentric 
if he wished. People would always ask him everywhere 
because he was Francis Mortlake, and one of the most 

53 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

desirable and amusing of guests, but George was different. 
There was so little, outside of business and golf, that he 
did care about. He didn’t even trouble himself to talk 
much unless he happened to be in the mood, and in a crowd 
of strangers he made almost no effort at all. 

Lady Causton, a friend of Mary Monash’s, was the 
widow of a wealthy shipowner who had been made a peer 
a few years before his death. He was generous and public- 
spirited, and not undeserving of honours. He gave a large 
estate near London to the nation as a public park, and a 
museum and picture gallery to his native town in York- 
shire. What else he gave, only his wife, the Liberal Party 
and various charitable organizations knew, but it was un- 
doubtedly handsome. He bought Whittleworth Park in 
June of one year and died of pneumonia the following 
January, and Lady Causton was left with an immense 
fortune that not even the death duties could diminish 
alarmingly, a large estate, and a plain girl of fourteen. 
Two years after his death his widow began to plan the 
large parties he had intended her to give when he bought 
the place. She was a spirited, energetic little woman, an 
enthusiastic worker for the League of Nations and the 
English Speaking Union. She had gone to America with 
her husband in 1913, and remembering the hospitality they 
had received there, was constantly on the look-out for 
suitable opportunities to repay it. She was fifty, but looked 
younger, and had no intention of being anything but Lady 
Causton to the end of her days. In asking Althea and 
George to Whittleworth she was not only being kind, but 
she was also enhancing the success of her party by the 
addition of a very vivacious and attractive young woman. 
Lady Causton liked to have men about her, and she knev/ 
very well how to obtain them. 

To George, she was someone he would have to be 
pleasant to for Althea’s sake. He thought it extremely 
kind of her to ask them to her house in London and her 
place in the country on such a short acquaintance, but he 
was beginning to take these readily proffered kindnesses — 

54 



NOW EAST, NOW .WEST 

which were due to the charms of his wife — almost for 
granted now. He said to Harry Sullivan on the golf course 
that Sunday : 

“ You know, I like England darned well, and I like the 
English. They’re tolerant and broad-minded, and I guess 
they’re sincere, and the ones we’ve met have certainly been 
kind. And in lots of ways life here is easier and pleasanter 
than in the States. But all the same, I’ll be glad to get 
home. I’m not exactly homesick. I’ve never been home- 
sick since the night before I left New York. But I sort of 
like being where I belong.” 

Harry Sullivan, whom George had described as hard- 
boiled,” answered: 

“ Maybe I’d like England better if I was in your place. 
You’re lucky. You’ve got a good-looking wife. It’s the 
women who get on here. Countries don’t matter a damn 
to them. I guess it’s because they never have to fight for 
the flag, or even take off their hats to it. Humans like the 
things that cost them something, and patriotism don’t cost 
women anything.” 

“ Oh, they’re naturally more adaptable,” George said. 

“ Adaptable hell ! Not in the great open spaces they’re 
not. Not nowadays, I hadn’t been married a year when 
I took my wife — she was a Chicago girl — out to the oil- 
fields in Wyoming. She beat it for home before she’d been 
out there six months, and the first thing I heard of her was 
the divorce papers she served up on me. No, sir. If you 
want to lose your wife there’s two ways to do it. One way 
is to take her where there’s nothing to spend money on, no 
matter whether it’s in the U.S.A., or in some hick town in 
Patagonia. And the other way is to take her somewhere 
where things are better than she’s used to, and where she’ll 
get ideas in her head. Before you know where you are 
she’s too good for her own country or her own town, and 
you can’t get her home again. No, sir. If you want to 
keep your wife, keep her where you found her and make 
out that she’s better than her neighbours. She’ll stick.” 

It amused George to listen to Harry Sullivan’s views on 

55 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

life and on women. He had a sort of crude sagacity, and 
though his humour was of the comic supplement order, 
he liked it. He abandoned the idea, however, of 
introducing him to Althea. She was as particular whom 
she met nowadays as a nervous debutante. He understood 
perfectly her enthusiasm for such people as Maty Monash 
and Francis Mortlake, but he dreaded their unsettling 
effect. He saw there was danger that Althea might think 
their old friends inferior, instead of merely different. It 
wasn’t a question of degree, but of kind, and he wasn’t quite 
sure he could trust her to see this. 

They motored to Whittleworth Park, in Essex, on a 
Friday afternoon, a frosty day which had begun by being 
foggy, but which was now redly lighted by a sun like a holly 
berry. They had not bought a Rolls, as Althea had fre- 
quently urged, but a comfortable second-hand Buick that 
George considered filled all their requirements. When 
people asked Althea what sort of car they had — ^for this is a 
question that people, for obscure reasons, do ask — she 
longed to be able to say, with a casualness she would take 
care not to overdo, “ A Rolls.” She was angry with 
George for some time about it, but it was useless to be 
angry with George for long, and in this instance he ignored 
her disapproval. 

They went through Epping Forest, richly brown with the 
minor tones of autumn, and passed tidy villages on whose 
greens the leaves lay in sodden patches. They undulated 
through woods and over hills, and their chauffeur, Beale, an 
Essex man himself, knew Whittleworth Park and was 
pleased to be going there. 

” He’ll think more of us for knowing Lady Causton,” 
George said with a grin, but Althea preferred to take their 
friendship with the widow of a rich peer as a matter of 
course, and ignored his remark. And yet titles and the 
proper attitude to adopt toward them occupied her mind a 
good deal. 

Indeed, those who belong to the titled aristocracy know 
little of the nice balance their friends strive to keep in 

56 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

regard to it. It is so easy and right to say, “ My friend Mr. 
Smith,” and often so diflBcult to say, My friend Lord 
Whatnot.” The mention of a title in some circles has an 
effect like that of a stone thrown into a still pool. One may 
not see the ripples, but they are there. It is enough, very 
often, to lay one open to the charge of snobbery, and yet to 
avoid the mention of a title implies a fear of being thought a 
snob that is even more slavish than snobbery itself. Six 
months earlier Althea would have smiled at George’s little 
joke, but she was suffering from a desire to be quite natural 
about it, and when one desires to be perfectly natural, one is 
often least so. The worst of titles, harmless enough things 
in themselves, is this little nuisance those who have them 
force their friends to suffer, but to suffer titles uncomplain- 
ingly is one of the nobler traits of mankind, and one for 
which it gets all too little credit. Americans, handicapped 
by being wholly unused to them from birth, deserve the 
most credit, for they suffer them more gladly than anyone, 
and it is none of it their fault. 

They approached Whittleworth through a woody lane 
that left the main road and ascended a gentle hill, on the top 
of which were the great iron gates of the park. Beyond 
these the drive led for a mile or more through a stretch of 
timbered parkland where cattle grazed and pheasants ran 
clucking across the road, all of which seemed to Althea de- 
lightfully English and right. The gabled, red-brick house, 
built about eighty years ago in the Elizabethan manner, lay 
just beyond an ornamental lake, round which the driveway 
curved, ending in a wide sweep before the door. Men- 
servants came out and took their things, and they were 
shown into the drawing-room, where Lady Causton was 
serving tea. 

Althea saw at a glance that Francis had not yet come, but 
Mary Monash was there, as also were Lord and Lady 
Bennington, a Miss Poynter, a man named Captain 
Northey, and a Mrs. Tilling, an American. George felt, 
among all these strangers, ^that Mary Monash was like a 
sister, so he sat down beside her, near the fire, 

57 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

She was a tall, graceful woman of about thirty-eight, 
with hair turned prematurely grey, and large, hollow blue 
eyes of considerable beauty. She was wearing a tight- 
fitting jersey of dark blue with a short, woollen skirt, and 
about her neck was a string of magnificent, luminous pearls. 
Her hands were long and flexible, with beautiful nails. She 
was very thin, and her cheeks as well as her eyes were 
hollow. She was a sad creature, who lived gaily, and it was 
understood that she was still in love with her husband, 
from whom she had been separated for some years. 

She called George by his Christian name, and had done so 
since their third or fourth meeting, but George, who usually 
took to Christian names very easily, could not, for some 
reason, call her Mary, so he called her nothing at all. No 
two people disagreed about Mary Monash. She seemed to 
have only two sides, instead of the many facets most 
women showed. One side she kept to herself, and everyone 
she knew saw the other. She was lovely, she was sad, she 
was generous-hearted. None of these things was open to 
dispute. She tried hard to make her life amusing and gay, 
as though at any moment she feared she might see its real 
substance and recoil from it. She had become a Catholic 
after her husband’s most public and humiliating infidelity. 
Unable to bear her troubles alone, she had found a great 
wide lap into which to fling them and to lay her head and 
weep. Her languid beauty and elegance made George feel 
heavy and inadequate, but had he realized it she was the 
least captious and critical of women. She accepted human- 
ity in a generous and tolerant spirit, and found something to 
like in everyone. She found a great deal to like in George, 
whose natural chivalry she felt and responded to. She 
thought him likeable, even lovable, and wanted him to 
see it. 

“ I wondered if Althea could persuade you to come,” she 
said, fixing a cigarette into a long holder. “ A shooting 
party isn’t much fun for a man who doesn’t shoot.” 

“ Oh, I guess I can amuse myself all right/’ said George, 
“ if Lady Causton doesn’t mind.” 

58 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Of course she doesn’t. I think I’d go out with them 
once, though, if I were you, just to see how it’s done. It’s 
quite interesting, if you’ve never seen it. I suppose I shall 
go . . . though I hate the noise and the awful thud, thud of 
falling bodies.” 

“ What do you go for, then ? ” 

“ Oh, it’s expected of one. The men like to be seen if 
they are shooting well, and consoled if they’re not. Be- 
sides, the woods are lovely, and I’m greedy enough to enjoy 
a shooting lunch.” 

“ I don’t think I’ll go, all the same,” he said, and was 
about to say more when Francis Mortlake came in, on the 
heels of the elderly butler who announced him. He was 
wearing tweeds that looked threadbare at the elbows and 
about the pockets, and was followed by a fat and ancient 
spaniel that he always took with him if no objections were 
made. In country clothes he looked somewhat less 
Palmerstonian, but no less striking. He knew everyone in 
the room with the exception of Mrs. Tilling, who regarded 
him covertly and covetously, for she was an ambitious giver 
of parties and found suitable men difiBcult to come by. 

“ I’ve beaten my own record to-day,” he told them. “ It 
took me three hours and a half to come down from London, 
and I never stopped once. That’s the most time I’ve ever 
made it in.” He turned to Mrs. Tilling, who was listening 
to him with the eager, approving face of one who wishes to 
establish a feeling of sympathy from the start, and said, “ I 
consider that the proper speed of a car is that of a coach and 
four, and no more. If my chauffeur can’t keep down to 
that, he has to go. I’ve covered a good part of Europe at 
sixteen miles an hour.” 

” How interesting ! ” Mrs. Tilling exclaimed. “ And 
most original. But didn’t it take you a long time ? ” 

He threw Althea a glance, as though to say, “ And to 
think that the same country that produced you, produced 
her ! ” 

He advised Mrs. Tilling to follow his example, as it 
would enable her to discover Europe afresh. 

59 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Oh, but I know Europe too well,’’ she said. “ It’s an 
old story to me, whether I go by train or motor. For 
novelty I must go further afield.” 

This was the sort of thing Francis enjoyed. He drew his 
chair nearer to hers and said : 

“ How perfectly delightful ! We must talk about places 
I’m fond of. You’ll know the Palatinate well, where I used 
to go fishing as a young man, and all the little towns of 
Norway that I know, and those mountains in Eastern 
Serbia, and Spain, of course ... the Asturias, and Ponte- 
vedra, where so few people ever go, and you’ll have been 
to . . .” 

But Mrs. Tilling interrupted with nervous haste : 

“ No, oddly enough, I’ve never been to Norway. It’s 
ridiculous, isn’t it? But somehow I’ve always missed 
Norway. You must tell me all about it. Everyone says 
the Norwegians are charming. A dear friend of mine, 
Princess Mohileff, goes there every year. I wonder if 
you’ve ever met her? She’s very, very beautiful. So 
many of the Polish nobility are, don’t you think ? ” 

This last was addressed to Lord Bennington, for she was 
finding Francis dangerous, and Lord Bennington replied 
that as far as he knew he’d never set eyes on a member of 
the Polish nobility, though he supposed there must be 
plenty of them about, Francis turned to Althea, and asked 
her if she liked what she’d seen of Essex. 

Now that Francis had come, Althea’s happiness was 
complete. Something might have happened to prevent it, 
or he might have changed his mind — he wasn’t fond of 
country-house visits — but here he was, and all was very 
well. She was having the most enchanting flirtation with 
him. It had reached a stage where both suspected that 
the other was the more seriously involved, and they would 
now have three evenings and two whole days in which 
to develop it. George had Mary Monash to talk to, whom 
he liked, and he would probaWy get on very well with 
Miss Poynter, who, her father being a diplomat, had lived 
in Washington and other capitals. Althea considered that 

60 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

she needn’t worry about him, and she certainly didn’t 
intend to. 

Lady Causton said they wouldn’t wait for the rest of the 
party, who would probably arrive just before dinner, and 
she took Althea and George upstairs to show them their 
rooms. Althea regretted that it wasn’t a historic mansion 
they were staying in, but she admired the way it was 
arranged and furnished, and took note of many a detail, 
commenting, aloud, on the beauty of the wide, carved 
staircase, which Lady Causton said had come out of an old 
Essex mansion that was now destroyed. She opened a 
door on the first floor and showed them into a big, square 
room in which was a fine four-poster bed. It was bright 
with chintz hangings, and was made cheerful by a wood 
fire. 

‘‘ Your husband’s room is just beyond,” she said, leading 
the way into the adjoining room “ and the bathroom is here, 
through this door. There were only two bathrooms when 
we bought the house, and we had to put in seven more, but 
there are still hardly enough. I do hope you’ll be comfort- 
able, and that you’ll ring if you want anything. I think it’s 
so clever of you to manage without a maid. I wish I 
could. Dinner’s at half-past eight. You’ll hear a loud 
gong. It’s the only way to get people down on time.” 

When she had gone, Althea exclaimed : 

” George, I ought to have a maid. I’m probably the 
only woman here who hasn’t got one. I feel mortified to 
death.” 

“ Well, you can have one if you like, but I always thought 
you said they were more trouble than they were worth.” 

“ I used to think that, but I don’t now. Lady Causton 
seemed quite surprised. Perhaps they don’t like people to 
come without maids.” 

“ Nonsense,” said George, who was often right. 

” I’ll ask Mary. I know she’s brought hers.” 

George inspected the bed with interest. He had never 
slept in a four-poster before. He looked at a glittering 
white dress that was spread out on it. 

61 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ How do they know that’s the dress you want to 
wear ? ” 

“ They don’t, but it doesn’t matter. I brought three 
nice ones, and I don’t mind which 1 put on first.” 

“ It’s new, isn’t it ? ” 

“ Yes. I bought two new ones. I thought I told you.” 
She added, “ George, isn’t this going to be fun ? ” 

“ I don’t know. I guess it will be for you.” He was 
examining the prints on the walls now. “ I feel like a sort 
of Hick from Hickville at a party like this.” 

“ I do hate to hear you say things like that. Goodness 
me, you can do exactly as you please here. There’s no 
ceremony or stiffness. T don’t see what there is to worry 
you.” 

“ It’s all right for you,” he told her. “ You fit in any- 
where, like water.” 

“ Well, so can you, if 3^ou make the effort. Anyhow, the 
men will be nice to you because you’re a stranger and 
Englishmen have good manners, and the women will be 
nice to you because you’re a man and good-looking.” 

He had wandered to the dressing-table now, and he stood 
facing himself in the glass. 

“ Would you call me good-looking ? Honestly ? ” 

“ You idiot, George. You know you are.” 

“ I don’t know it. You never said so before.” 

” Liar. I’ve said it dozens of times.” 

“ Before we were married, maybe. Fm not as good- 
looking as Francis Mortlake.” 

“ Oh, well, it’s a different sort of good looks. Francis is 
an unusually distinguished-looking man. I don’t think any 
country but England produces just that type.” 

She came to the dressing-table and pulled off her rings. 
George turned to her and took her in his arms. He kissed 
her forehead and her cheek. The firelight, the warm room, 
the stillness, the bright closely-drawn curtains, suddenly 
made him feel happy and tender. 

“ Are you satisfied with your old George, baby ? ” 

She made an impatient little movement. 

62 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Call me anything you like except that.” 

Angel. Sweetest.” 

Well, that’s better.” 

Answer me. Are you ? ” 

” Am I what ? ” 

” Satisfied with your old George ? ” 

” 1 wish you’d make a little more effort to please me.” 

” All right. I will. Watch me.” 

” Yes, but promise.” 

” Kiss me and I’ll promise.” 

'' You’ll forget all about it to-morrow and be just the 
same.” 

“ Well, kiss me and see if I will.” 

” You ridiculous creature. I want to get dressed.” 

She kissed him, arms about his neck, but the kiss was 
perfunctory, and before it was done her thoughts had fled 
away elsewhere, and George knew this and was a little hurt 
and angry. But he had forgotten it by the time the gong 
sounded and they went down to dinner, dread in George’s 
heart and eager anticipation in Althea’s. 

He soon found that he was happily placed. He sat be- 
tween Lady Bennington and a late arrival, a woman of 
middle age. He had no difficulty whatever in carrying on a 
conversation with Lady Bennington, who told him that they 
had had a lovely old place in Donegal which had been burnt 
to the ground in the late “ bad times,” and that they now 
lived in a modern brick villa not more than twenty miles 
away; that they had two boys at school and almost no 
money, but that they kept two racehorses because both she 
and her husband adored racing and were tolerably lucky on 
the Turf ; that her name was Clodagh, and her husband’s 
Shane ; that they were passionately devoted to each other ; 
that she could only afford two evening dresses a year. Then 
she told stories of a wild and penurious girlhood that were 
quite unspoilt by a little native exaggeration, and he 
wondered, amused, if there were anything at all she wouldn’t 
tell him. But he enjoyed her talk, and was sorry when 
Captain Northey diverted her to himself. He then turned 

63 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

to the middle-aged lady, and saw that her name-card was 
turned over, presenting to him only a bleak, white surface. 
She appeared to notice that he was silent, for she turned her 
head and smiled at him, and he saw her face for the first 
time. Her features were decided, her nose short, her chin 
rounded and well formed, and her brow very fine and wide. 
Her eyebrows, unlike her hair, which was mixed with grey, 
were still black, and made handsome arches over her brown 
eyes. It was a determined face, but animated and humor- 
ous. 

“ Tell me your name,” she said. “ I’m lost till I know.” 

George picked up his card and gave it to her. 

“ Goodall is my name,” he said. 

She looked at him with eyes that were sparkling with 
amusement. Then she burst out laughing with perfectly 
spontaneous mirth and offered him her card, still laughing. 

“ I don’t know why,” she said, ” but it strikes me as 
exceedingly funny. It’s the sort of silly joke that always 
makes me giggle.” 

George looked at the card, and a smile spread over his 
own feaures. He read on it, “ Mrs. Allgood." 

“ Well, that certainly is comic,” he agreed. 

“ Do you suppose Cynthia Causton saw the joke when 
she put us together ? Of course she must. I’ll tell her how 
we enjoyed it.” 

George said that it was a very odd and amusing coinci- 
dence. 

“ You’ve got the best of it,” he assured her. “ Allgood’s 
a prettier name than Goodall.” 

She made a slight grimace. 

‘‘I don’t care anything about prettiness. There are 
moments when I dislike all goodness. The truth is,” she 
said, lowering her voice, “ I’m in a bad temper, and only the 
silly fact that your name is like mine bac^ards could 
restore me to anything like good humour.” 

“ Why, what’s the matter ? ” he asked. 

“ I thought I was going to spend a happy and quiet 
week-end at home with some new books,” she explained. 

64 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Instead of that I’m understudying some young thing with 
a cold in her head. I’m a fill in, you see. I hardly ever go 
to parties nowadays, but Cynthia rang me up at five and 
begged and implored and even sent her car for me, so here 
I am. I’m so fond of Cynthia, I never can say a firm no to 
her. But I’m beginning to feel more cheerful.” 

George told her it was the first big house-party he’d ever 
been to, and that he didn’t shoot. 

“ What will you do all day to-morrow then, you poor 
soul ? ” 

“ Oh, I’ll just fool around. Maybe I can get a game of 
golf somewhere, and if I can’t do that. I’ll go for a walk.” 

” I don’t play any games, so I’m no good to you there, 
but I could walk till Doomsday.” 

“ Say, that would be great,” George said. ” Let’s take a 
walk somewhere. Where’ll we go ? ” 

She considered for a moment, while George, curiously 
attracted by something harmonious and pleasing in her 
face, looked at her. 

” I’ve thought of an excellent plan,” she presently said, 
turning towards him again. ” Of course you have a car 
here with you ? ” 

“ I have. But why ‘ of course ’ ? ” 

” My reasoning is so obvious. Don’t force me to 
explain. Well, in the morning we’ll walk through the 
woods and across the fields by a path I know to my house, 
about seven miles away. We’ll lunch there with my 
husband, who will be delighted to see me again so soon, and 
then your car could call for us in the afternoon and bring us 
back. I want to retrieve a nail-file I left behind, and I’d like 
to show you my house. Also the walk through the woods 
is very pleasant, unless it pours.” 

That’ll suit me fine. When do we start ? ” 

“ As soon as the guns have got off, I think. I suppose 
your wife will be going with them.” 

George said she would be sure to go. 

‘‘ Do you know which she is ? ” he inquired. 

Of course. She’s that pretty woman in white ^ext to 
c 65 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Francis Mortlake. I think they drown all the ugly ones in 
your country. At least we never see any here. I sometimes 
wish we did/’ 

He asked her if she knew Francis Mortlake. She did, 
and she said she liked him. 

I like him for appearing entirely frivolous, and for not 
being so. He’s a charming creature, and full of contra- 
dictions. I don’t think civilization can do much better 
than to go on producing Francis Mortlakes. Unfortun- 
ately it will never produce enough. I think, in a way, he 
does God quite a lot of credit.” 

George, a little nonplussed at the way she spoke of God, 
agreed that Francis was a fine fellow. 

“ Oh, he’s much more and much less than that. He’s a 
thoroughly civilized person. He’s a hopeful cynic, a 
savant with the simplest tastes, and a kindly sensualist. 
Civilization, in spite of all one may find to say against it, has 
a great deal to give us, and very few of us, either through 
laziness, disinclination or lack of opportunity, take what it 
has to give. Francis Mortlake has taken almost every- 
thing. He has no arrogance, in spite of that — neither the 
arrogance of birth nor that of brains, and they are equally 
insufferable. The arrogance of wealth,” she added, “ I 
hardly like to speak about in the same room with Mrs. 
Tilling, and it’s the worst of all.” 

“ Why Mrs. Tilling?” 

“ She’s the perfect example of it. ' She’s the only one of 
Cynthia’s friends I can’t endure. I don’t think of her as 
one of your countrywomen, because she doesn’t think of 
herself as one. She’s ousted everything in her that she 
thinks is American, and adopted everything she thinks is 
English, and, poor soul, she’s wide of the mark both 
ways.” 

“ Have you ever been to America ? ” he asked. 

“ Yes. But don’t let’s impart our life stories to each 
other yet. We can do that to-morrow. If your wife has 
made a friend of Francis Mortlake, she’s very lucky, for he’s 
a liberal education for any woman.” 

66 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ I don’t know that I want my wife taught anything,” 
George remarked, “ by Mortlake or anyone else. I prefer 
her as she is.” 

” I was thinking of her good, not of yours.” 

“ I want things to stay as they are,” he insisted. 

” Which, of course, they never do.” 

“ Well, I don’t see the good of experiences that make you 
restless and unhappy.” 

“ Oh,” she said, ” that’s nonsense. There’s no point 
in living if you’re not learning, and experience is still the 
best teacher. If living doesn’t mean learning, it’s just a 
silly sort of joke. So you see how valuable I think 
experience is.” 

“ I wish I agreed with you,” he answered, ” but I don’t. 
I think you’re dead wrong. I think it’s up to us to try to 
avoid experiences. Unless, of course, a man’s bored with 
his life. And I’m not bored.” 

“ You poor soul,” she said. “ You’ve got some horrid 
surprises ahead of you. To anyone who is really aUve, 
experiences are bound to come. We differ in this : I wel- 
come them — ^unless they’re clearly tragedies — ^you deplore 
them. But come they will and must. So let’s get some- 
thing out of them.” 

“ Do you advocate going out of your way to find 
them ? ” 

“ No. The ones that matter come to you.” Suddenly, 
after a pause, she said, “ I ought to talk to the rather stupid 
old gentleman on my right now. He apologized to me a 
moment ago for speaking about the possibility of a general 
election. England, you’ll find, is the only country in the 
world where women are really interested in politics, audit’s 
the only country in the world where men still apologize to 
women for mentioning them.” 

“Don’t talk to him yet,” George begged. “I am 
just thanking my lucky stars that the young woman with 
the cola -couldn’t come. Tell me, what do we do after 
dinner ? ” 

“ It’s no good asking me,” she said ; “ I tell you I never 

67 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

go to parties any more. They say the dancing craze is on 
the wane, so we’ll probably talk, or play bridge, or perhaps 
they’ll play pencil and paper games.” 

“ Gosh ! ” exclaimed George. “ Dancing is the only 
one of those things Fm any good at, and I only talk when I 
can find someone like you to talk to. Let me come and sit 
by you after dinner, will you ? ” 

“ You’re like a jeune fille at her first ball,” she said. 
‘‘ Yes, we’ll meet later, unless you’re snatched from me by 
someone else. Fll try to find a sofa and keep a place for 
you.” 

When she got up from the table and went out with the 
other women, he regarded her back with interest. She was 
wearing a dress of thin, grey material cleverly draped on a 
figure that was not sUm, but was erect and well-propor- 
tioned. Her thick, iron-grey hair had a handsome diamond 
ornament through it. He wasn’t given to analysis, and he 
only knew that he liked her and that he hoped she’d be able 
to keep that place for him. 

The old gentleman who had been sitting on her right now 
turned to him and began to talk. He appeared to find the 
fact that George was an American highly diverting, even 
ridiculous, as though it were a nationality that no one in 
their senses could possibly take seriously. He was a little 
pink-and-white old man with a great white moustache, and 
his name was Sir Bartley Hopkyns. He had been to 
America during the war on some mission or other, and he 
at once began relating his impressions to George. His 
attitude seemed to be that George had made America, was 
personally responsible for everything in it, and at the same 
time didn’t know anything about it. The things that had 
impressed him most were the heat of Washington in July, 
soft-shelled crabs, and the fact that Americans said skedule 
instead of schedule. 

“ You call it skedule over there,” he repeated with senile 
relish. ‘‘ Fancy calling it skedule ! Skedule I Fancy ! ” 

A very silly old man, George was forced to conclude, and 
he wished he would leave him alone so that he could listen 

68 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

to Francis and Lord Bennington, who were talking politic^ 
and calling all the famous men fools, liars, and drunkards 
with happy freedom. Presently, however. Sir Bartley said 
all he had to say on his three American topics, and George 
was drawn into conversation with Captain Northey and a 
Mr. Faulkiner, who were talking about golf, so that he was 
agreeably occupied until they left the dining-room. 


69 



CHAPTER .VI 


But Mr. Faulkiner, who happened to precede him out of 
the room, found the empty place beside Mrs. All good before 
he did, and occupied it. To Mr. Faulkiner it was merely a 
place to sit, and George caught an amused glance from her 
which told him that she knew this and thought it funny. 
He presently found a comfortable harbour beside Miss 
Poynter, who had been in Washington with her father till 
illness ended his duties there. She was a robust, handsome 
girl, as friendly as a child, and he learnt that she was en- 
gaged to Captain Northey, which seemed very suitable, for 
he was as freshly coloured and as robust as herself. It was. 
Miss Poynter who, when pencil and paper games were 
decided on, encouraged and supported him. 

“ They’re fun,” she insisted, “ and they break the ice. I 
promise you they’re not hard, and you can say anything 
you like in this house — ^within reason, of course. They 
always tell me I’m vulgar, but I can’t help it. Vulgar 
thoughts just come into my head the moment I have a 
pencil in my hand.” 

“ Gosh, what a best seller you’d write ! ” George exclaimed. 

She laughed. 

“ I’ll have to wait till I’m married to Dick, then. All my 
family are extremely pure. I have to suppress my vulgarity 
at home, which seems a pity these days, when it’s at such a 
premium.” 

They decided on telegrams, after a good deal of discus-; 
sion, and the word chosen was cinematograph. George, 
his mind an absolute blank at first, looked about him at the 
oak-panelled room, admiring the great fall of the red velvet 
curtains that were drawn across the windows, the wide stone 
fireplace with its log fire, the half circle about it of chairs and 
sofas filled with pensive beings who, if they spoke, .spoke in 
, whispers. Miss Poynter murmured, “ You’d better get on 

70 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

with it,” and he settled down to his task. When he had 
written a telegram he thought would do, he looked across at 
Althea. She was sitting on a sofa between Francis and 
Lord Bennington, and looked very happy and bright of eye. 
In fact she looked, George thought, as though playing 
pencil and paper games between a peer and an honourable 
was what she had been born for. 

Lady Bennington sat on a low stool with her back to the 
fire, having remarked that she was never warm out of bed, 
and near her was Colonel Accrington, who had arrived just 
before dinner. Mary Monash was in dead, unrelieved 
black, and at night her bones looked more fragile and her 
eyes bluer and hollower than by day. Lady Causton was 
the least noticeable of the women, being entirely out- 
dressed and outshone by Mrs. Tilling, who wore a gown of 
green spangles that looked well enough with her artificially 
red hair. A good deal of whispering went on between 
Althea and Francis, and suppressed laughter, and when the 
time came for the telegrams to be read, Althea, playing the 
part of censor, tore up something Francis had written, and 
the one he read out was clearly a hurried afterthought. He 
was persuaded to begin : ' 

“ Concubinage in Near East managed admirably. Think 
our girls ridiculously antiquated. Prefer harems.” 

This caused a good deal of amusement. George was a 
little surprised at its impropriety, thinking the company 
rather mixed for that sort of thing, but he looked at Lady 
Causton, and saw that she was lau^iing as much as anyone. 
Francis, he supposed, being who he was, would probably 
go further than other people dared to go. Lord Benning- 
ton’s was : 

‘‘ Caught in Nice early Monday. Already tired of 
Gladys. Returning, asking pardon humbly.” 

They were all absurd and mildly risque, and George saw 
that his own w^s going to sound very flat and dull, but he 
couldn’t help it. It was all very well to be slightly im- 
proper if one knew exactly how improper to be, and he 
wasn’t sure he did. Mrs. Allgood read hers next : 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Curbing impatience not easy. Must arrange together 
obtain good rendezvous, avoiding prying husband.” 

When it came to Miss Poynter’s turn, she read : 

“ Come immediately, nobody expected, mother away, 
tempting opportunity grasp rare and precious hours.” 

“ Why is it one never gets a telegram like that ? ” 
mourned Francis, in the midst of the laughter. Then 
George’s turn came, and his spirits sank as he read out : 

“ Capital invested new enterprise may amass thousands. 
Opportunity golden, returning amazing profits. Hopeful.” 

They told him it was very good, but he realized that the 
whole object of these games was to provoke mirth. How- 
ever, he hadn’t actually made a fool of himself as he might 
have done, and he was thankful for it. He presently had 
another moment of panic when two words, written inde- 
pendently by two different people were given to him, and 
he was told to make up a poem bringing them both in. 
The words were “ highbrow ” and “ mustard.” It looked 
impossible, and he was almost in despair, when four lines 
suddenly swung into his head, seemingly from nowhere, 
and he wrote them down thankfully, believing that some- 
thing very like inspiration had come to him, to keep him 
from disaster. When fifteen minutes had passed, everyone 
read their own poems aloud. Some of them were elaborate 
and skilful ; all of them except Sir Bartley Hopkyns’s were 
competent, and then George read, after announcing the 
given words : 

“ If you’re married to a highbrow, 

Never by her brains be flustered, 

If she raise a scornful eyebrow. 

Say, ‘ My darling, pass the mustard.’ ” 

He wasn’t exactly proud of it, but he hoped it would 
pass, like the mustard, and was surprised and embarrassed 
by the success it had. Francis was willing to wager that 
no poet, alive or dead, could have done better with the 
two given words in a verse of four lines. It said, he 
assured them, everything. Observe the firmness and at 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

the same time the tenderness of the last line. There was 
not a word too many or a word too few. If only all 
husbands could be at the same time so final and so for- 
bearing. See how it took the wind out of the sails of the 
highbrow wife. What was there left for her to say ? 
Nothing. It was an admirable example of compression 
and repression. George was thankful when attention was 
presently diverted to someone else. 

When they went up to bed at about eleven, he couldn’t 
make up his mind whether he had really enjoyed the 
evening or whether the pleasant glow of which he was 
conscious was caused by the mere fact that he had got 
through it without disgrace. In their bedroom Althea 
said: 

“ Those silly games were rather fun. I was thankful 
you had Miss Poynter next to you. I felt sure she’d be 
able to help you. She’s awfully bright.” 

To which George replied indignantly : 

Help me be damned ! She never helped me. I didn’t 
want any help. I could go on making up rhymes till the 
cows come home.” 

AJthea breakfasted in bed the next morning, but she was 
down in time to start off with the guns at ten, and George 
watched her walking away at Francis’s side, dressed, 
although she had never been out shooting before, precisely 
as the other women were, and with a raincoat over her 
arm, as the day was cloudy. The party made a picture 
that was pleasing to the eye, with dogs, guns, tweeds in 
soft, russet colours, and the many warm browns of boots, 
leggings, scarves and canvas. They went down the drive 
towards the woods, and presently melted into the back- 
ground and were lost to sight. George and Mrs. Allgood 
then turned their own steps in the opposite direction, 
crossing the terrace and the lawn, skirting the lake, and 
entering the woods on the far side by a path she knew. 

She said there was no hurry; they had three hours in 
which to walk seven miles, and she thought walking should 
be merely an excuse for talking and looking at the scenery. 

73 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST ' 

“ What a pretty creature your wife is ! How long have 
you been married, and have you got children ? ” 

She heard a good deal then about George’s past and 
present. He was one of those men who have only men 
friends, and to these he told nothing at all, their friendship 
being quite satisfactorily based on funny' stories, golf and 
the pursuit of drinks. To talk about himself to a woman 
other than his wife was a new and exhilarating experience. 
She egged him on, asked abrupt questions, made, now and 
then, comments that were so delicately ironical that they 
missed fire, and when he began to tell her how wonderful 
Althea was, how quick, how clever and adaptable, she 
broke in : 

“ Yes, yes, I know all about that. All American 
husbands say that about their wives, even after the divorce. 
When an American husband tells me he has the most 
wonderful little wife in the world, I know it’s quite probable 
that within the next few days I shall hear she’s divorcing 
him on the grounds of incompatibility.” And as George 
looked rebuffed and surprised she hastened to say, “ I’m 
not doubting you for a moment. I can see she’s a very 
charming young woman, but I think this habit of wife- 
praising is bad and dangerous. A happy man ought to 
be silent about his wife’s perfections, and an unhappy man 
ought to be even more silent, or else say what he really 
thinks about her, if it relieves his feelings. There’s been 
too much sentimental woman-worship in your country, and 
I tremble to think what the reaction will be like.” She 
went on, as George still said nothing, “ The fact is, I’ve got 
a lot of sympathy for American men. They’ve been told 
so often tW they’re good at business and good for nothing 
else, that they’ve ended by believing it.” 

“ When were you in America ? ” George asked. 

“ Oh, I know what I’m talking about, I promise you. 
I’ve crossed the Atlantic twenty times. I’ve seen the sky- 
line of New York change from a low, irregular outline to 
the amazing thing it is now. I’ve been snowed up in your 
Overland trains. I’ve been half suffocated with sand and 

74 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

dust in your desert, I’ve slept in many a bed in the Black- 
stone Hotel, in Chicago, I’ve eaten cod-fish cakes at the 
Parker House, in Boston, and many’s the good breakfast 
I’ve had at the Holland House, New York — yes, I know 
it’s gone now. I’ve jingled in a sleigh through Central 
Park, and loved it, and I’ve seen the autumn colours blaze 
in the woods along the Hudson. I’ve eaten terrapin in 
Baltimore, and I once saw a bear in the Rockies. I knew 
Chinatown as it used to be before the fire in San Francisco, 
and twenty years ago I danced to an automatic piano in 
one of those road-houses on the beach. I’ve seen the sun 
rise in the Yosemite, and seen it set in the Yellowstone, and 
I remember seeing women crying in the streets of New York 
the day President McKinley was shot ...” 

‘‘ Say,” broke in George, “ what were you selling, any- 
how ? ” 

“ That’s good old native American humour,” she said, 
laughing. ” It always pleases me. Well, take a look at 
me and tell me what you think I was selling ? ” 

George looked at her. He saw what he had seen last 
night, a not unhandsome woman of perhaps fifty, strongly 
and sturdily made, with brown eyes full of vitality and 
animation. Younger, thinner, she must have been ex- 
tremely attractive. But he wasn’t going to trust himself 
to guess. 

“ WJiat do you think l am — or was ? ” she demanded. 

“ Nothing doing. I’m not going to make any fool 
guesses. I’d a whole lot rather be told.” 

“ I belong to a curious profession,” she said. “ If you 
say a woman looks like a writer, it conveys nothing, unless 
perhaps it means that she looks intelligent. But if you say 
that a woman looks like an actress — well, you know what 
is generally meant by that. However, I am, or was, an 
actress. I was Kate Blaine.” 

“ You ! ” exclaimed George. “ Kate Blaine ? ” 

“ I was. I am. I feel like her still. My career was cut 
short. At thirty-eight I married William Matheson All- 
good, a professor of science at Cambridge. You won’t 

75 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

have heard of him unless you’re interested in science your- 
self. I never went back to the stage after that, never once, 
not even for so much as a charity matinee. Think of it ! ” 

‘‘ Why, good Lord, then I saw you act, in New York,” 
George said. “ It was years ago. I think my mother 
took me.” 

She smiled. 

“ Very likely. What did you see me in ? ” 

“ Oh, one of those Ibsen plays, I think it was.” 

“ I played Nora in ‘ The Doll’s House ’ there one 
winter.” 

“ I believe that was it. Yes, I remember now. I 
thought it was a rotten play, but I thought you were great.” 

“ Reverse your adjectives,” she suggested, “ andyou’d 
be nearer the mark. No, that’s not true. I was good in 
that part, and the play was very nearly great a dozen or 
more years ago. Now . . . no. It’s rather like a tempest 
in a glass of milk. So many of the plays of that period do 
seem like that now.” ♦ 

George said he didn’t think he’d been to any of the 
others. 

“ When you go to the theatre,” she asked him, “ what 
do you like to see ? ” 

Oh, musical plays, generally, or a good farce.” 

“ Yes. That’s all right. I hate prigs and highbrows-. 
Still, it’s a pity not to have read the old plays, ^ least. 
Otherwise, one has no way of making comparisons, and 
one’s opinion is of no value.” 

“ Althea . . .” George began, but she interrupted him. 

“ Oh, yes, your wife ... I know what you were going 
to say. She’s the clever, well-read one, she’s the one who 
goes to plays and lectures. But what good does that do 
you ? Oh, why, I wonder, do so many people settle down 
to the enjoyment of mental coma after twenty ? ” 

“ That’s right,” George said. “ Pitch into me. I guess 
I need it.” 

But she stopped abruptly, apologizing for her criticisms. 
It was her dreadful habit of speaking her mind, she said. 

76 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

She then began to tell him about her house, which she 
described as a small, seventeenth-century manor. 

“ My husband bought it for me when we became 
engaged. Fm afraid it was a sort of bait. I had never 
had a home, I had lived for sixteen years in hotels and 
furnished flats that were filled with other people’s silver- 
mounted photographs. He followed me to Philadelphia, 
where I was playing in ‘ The Gay Lord Quex,’ and he 
showed me pictures of Mullion. We went for a long drive, 
and I cried bitterly because I was so moved and touched by 
the pathos of this last, despairing assault, and so undecided. 
He had been trying to marry me then for five years. I 
wanted to harden my heart against him, and against those 
hedges of clipped yew, and the great mulberry tree my 
windows would look out upon. I was afraid of myself, 
and of my love for my profession — for I did love it — but he 
was too clever for me, and I followed him home as soon as 
my contract expired.” 

“ And then ? ” George prompted her. 

“ We were married, in London, and for more than six 
years we were absolutely happy. Then four years ago 
we went to Crete to stay with a great friend of his, an 
archaeologist who was making excavations there, and he 
got rheumatic fever for the second time in his life, and 
almost died of it. It left him crippled with rheumatism 
and, of course, weakened his heart. He goes to Pau each 
winter with a devoted sister, and then I leave Mullion and 
take a flat in London by myself. In the summer we go to 
Aix together. But I’m afraid he’s as well now as he ever 
will be, and you’ll see for yourself how far from well 
that is.” 

George said it must be awful to be a cripple and do 
nothing for the rest of your days. 

“ Oh,” she said, “ he gets about a little on crutches, and 
his mind is as active as ever. He writes a good deal, and 
that makes life bearable to him.” 

I guess you do that,” remarked George. 

“ Oh, I help. He’s very fond of his sister. That’s why 

77 



NOW EAST. NOW WEST 

] let them go away together every year. She likes me well 
enough, but she can’t forgive me for having been an 
actress.” 

“ Say, you don’t meart, to tell me there’s anyone living 
to-day who thinks like that ? ” 

“ My sister-in-law. She’s older than I am, and although 
spinsterhood is a state for which I have nothing but respect 
and awe, and sometimes a little envy, it is apt to warp one’s 
views. At least I think a spinster has to take more care 
to keep them unwarped than a married woman.” She was 
silent for a few moments, pursuing her own thoughts, then 
she lifted up her face to the tall beech trees under which 
they walked, and quoted, half-aloud, “ ‘ Bare ruined choirs 
where late the sweet birds sang.’ I’m sorry. Quoting’s a 
horrid habit unless you quote to yourself.” 

“ It’s pretty,” George said. 

“ Yes, I always think Shakespeare puts things rather 
neatly, don’t you ? ” 

Her irony was lost on him, or he gave no sign. 

“ What’s the rest of it ? ” 

She began, “ ‘ That time of .year thou mayst in me 
behold,’ ” and recited the whole sonnet, slackening her 
pace as she did so. He listened not so much to the poem 
as to her voice, with its rich tones, and watched her lively 
face. When she came to the last line, ” To love that well 
which thou must leave ere long,” he was moved. He 
wondered if she hated growing old, if she had learnt that 
particular sonnet for that very reason, and he felt something 
of the sadness a woman feels whose youth is slipping through , 
her grasp. She had made him feel it, such was the power 
of a voice, exquisitely used. He was silent for a moment, 
then he said; 

“ I’m afraid I don’t know much Shakespeare. I’ve only 
read two of the plays, add that was when I was in college. 
And I saw John Barrymore in ‘ Hamlet.’ ” 

“ And I suppose you’ve never read the sonnets at all ? ” 

“ No, I’m afraid I haven’t.” 

She turned despairing eyes on him. 

78 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ If I knew you a little better I’d tell you what I thought 
of you.” 

“ Well, we’ll just stay right here until you feel you know 
me well enough, because I want to hear it.” 

This was disarming. She laughed and said : 

“I think you’re a very charming young man, but I’d 
rather like to shake you. Why, why do you close your 
mind to so much ? Don’t you know that a knowledge of 
Shakespeare will make human beings seem more human, 
and humanity in general a little above the beasts that 
perish ? That it will help you to bear with yourself and 
to understand your wife ? That it affects the mere buying 
of a hat or the selling of an office desk ? Why, a man who 
doesn’t know Shakespeare is like a ship with a defective 
compass. Ignore the past and the literature of the past, 
my dear, dear Mr. Goodall, and you see the present with 
one purblind eye,” 

“ That’s great,” George said. “ Go ahead, I like it.” 

She went ahead: 

“ I used Shakespeare’s name as a symbol, because he’s 
the greatest of them all, but I mean to include all the great 
ones. What can you know of your own republic if you 
know nothing of Plato’s ? What can art to-day mean to 
you if you know nothing of Titian and Velasquez and 
Rembrandt ? Of what use is poetry to you if you don’t 
know Shelley ? And what can you know of the drama, or 
of the drama of human life, if you don’t know Shakespeare ? 
Why, it’s a sort of death-in-life. You’re like a two- 
dimensional creature living in world without shadows.” 

“ I’ve always wondered what I was,” said George. 
“ Now I know.” 

“ If you were dull of comprehension,” she went on, “ I’d 
say nothing. One doesn’t quarrel with a vegetable for 
being a vegetable. But you’ve got the lively humour of 
most Americans, the mental quickness, the vitality. And 
it’s all used up in making money and in having a Good 
Time. Oh, I know. I’ve seen something of your Good 
Times. We can’t afford it here on that scale, and it’s a 

79 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

blessing we can’t, for we are imitating you more and more 
where we can. And the French can afford it even less. 
Frugality and poverty, by the grace of God, have made the 
Frenchman, and in a lesser degree the Englishman, a more 
intellectual being than the American.” 

“ I guess that’s pretty true,” agreed George. 

She put a penitent hand on his arm. 

Now I’ve said enough. I’m afraid I’ve said too much. 
Just over that hill is Mullion. You can see the smoke from 
the chimneys. Remind me not to leave without my nail- 
file, won’t you ? ” 

But George had enjoyed her lecture. He found it agree- 
able to be discussed by her, and he was flattered that she 
thought it worth while. 

You advise me to begin niy education by reading 
Shakespeare, then ? ” he persisted. 

“ Certainly.” 

All right. I’ll read him this winter. Didn’t you say 
something about taking a flat in London ? When does 
that happen ? ” 

“ After Christmas. In February, very likely. I’ll let 
you Imow.” 

“ That’ll be great. I’d like you to get to know Althea.” 

She smiled at him. 

“ It’s you I like. You’re so natural. It’s charming. 
Only Americans and very young or very old Englishmen 
^tre like that.*’ ^ 

“ Oh, well,” returned George modestly, “ I guess there 
isn’t much credit in being natural if you don’t know how to 
be anything else.” 


80 



CHAPTER VII 


The shooting party had already returned when they got 
back. Mrs. Allgood went straight into the library for a 
late cup of tea, and George helped himself to a drink in the 
hall and went upstairs to find Althea. He saw her muddy 
little boots outside the door. She was in her bath, so he 
called out to her that he was back, and she replied that she 
would be out in a minute. She was some time, however, 
and meanwhile the things he was primed to tell her had to 
wait. He sat by the fire and re-lived the events of one of 
the pleasantest days he had ever spent. When Althea 
emerged in her dressing-gown, her face flushed and radiant, 
she exclaimed at once : 

“ Oh, George, I do wish you had come with us ! It was 
simply heavenly. I’ve never enjoyed anything so much. 
What an idiot you are not to shoot ! It must be too exciting 
for words. I think I’ll learn. And then the woods, and 
the red sun, and the pheasants whirring overhead, and the 
cries of the beaters, and the banging of the guns — it’s 
lovely. Those men are marvellous shots. Francis and 
Lord Bennington never seemed to miss a thing. Francis 
may not like shooting, but he got a right and left nearly 
every time, I noticed. I didn’t believe anyone could shoot 
so accurately.” She went to her dressing-table, sat down, 
and began to attend to her face, making use of cotton wool 
and silver-topped bottles. “ I’ve made great friends with 
Lady Bennington. She’s perfectly killing. She says 
absolutely anything that comes into her head. She and 
Lord Bennington have just won a race and made quite 
a lot of money, and they’re going to the South of France 
in February. She said why didn’t we come out too, and I 
said it was hopeless, American business men never could 
go anywhere. But it would be fun. They are the nicest 
couple. And she likes you,” 

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NOW EAST, NO\V WEST 

“ That’s good,” remarked George, as she paused. 

“ So did Miss Poynter. In fact you’ve had quite a 
success. I’m awfully sorry you didn’t come to-day, though. 
We had lunch in a farmhouse — one of the tenants’ — and I 
never had such heavenly things to eat. Game pies and 
cold chicken and potted shrimps and little jam tarts, and 
hot coflFee, and lots to drink. I had two glasses of delicious 
port. Francis was too amusing at lunch. He is so witty. 
I thought Mrs. Tilling would laugh herself ill. She lov^ 
my tweed and wanted to know where I had it made. She 
has a house in Grosvenor Square, and wants me to come 
and see her. Francis doesn’t like her, but she seems to 
know everybody. I’m going to lie down till dinner-time. 
I’m too tired to appear again before dinner. What are 
you going to do ? ” 

“ I think I’ll go down and see if I can get someone to 
play a game of billiards,” he said, and waited, hoping she 
would ask what he had done all day, but she was too much 
occupied with her own thoughts. She passed a comb 
through her hair, put some cologne on her hands and fore- 
head, and picking up a book went to the bed and lay down, 
pulling an eiderdown over herself and turning on the reading 
lamp. 

” Oh, how pleasant this is ! It isn’t so much the walking 
as the standing that tires you. Francis made me take his 
shooting-stick, or I’d be more tired still. I must buy one. 
George, it must be loyely to have a place like this, with 
shooting and squash and tennis and everything. I always 
thought I’d like country life if it was this sort. And you 
could always have a house full of amusing people. Oh, 
I’ve got the wrong book. I’ve read this. Give me that 
blue one on the table, will you ? ” 

He got up and gave it to her. 

“ Thanks. Why don’t you go down and see if you can 
find someone for billiards? Captain Northey plays, I 
know. He’s somewhere about.” 

” I guess I will,” George said, and went out, closing the 
door quietly. Memories of Mufiion, the loveliest place he 

82 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

had ever seen, possessed him, with those yew hedges that 
had helped to lure Mrs. Allgood from the stage; of Pro- 
fessor Allgood with his crutches and his fine head, and his 
face like a dry-point etching ; of Mrs. Allgood in her own 
home, at her own luncheon table; of her talk, her mind, 
her personality ; of their walk through the woods, and the 
ivy and deep moss that had ornamented every ditch and 
bank and stone wall ; of Britwell Beeches, that gem of a 
village on whose skirts Mullion lay ; of the astounding fact, 
which all day he had been longing to impart to Althea, that 
Mrs. Allgood was Kate Blaine. All these things had failed 
to find their natural outlet, and now he didn’t care if they 
never found it. He was like a child suddenly disappointed 
in some pleasure it had set its heart on. He looked into 
the library, and found no one there but Sir Bartley Hop- 
kyns, who was reading the Tatler^ and he dodged out again 
without being seen. He heard the click of billiard balls, 
and found Captain Northey and Colonel Accrington 
already playing. They hailed him and asked him what 
he had been doing all day, and he told them, briefly. He 
watched the game for a while, then wandered into the 
drawing-room. 

“ I guess Fve got nerves,” he said to himself, and turned 
on the gramophone. 

If Althea noticed, later, that he was reserved with her 
and somewhat short in his speech, she gave no sign of it. 
She saw, with some amusement, how he attached himself 
to Mrs. Allgood. It was hke George, she thought, to pick 
out the least attractive woman in the party to make friends 
with. It was so unenterprising of him. Still, she was 
very thankful that she needn’t have him on her mind. 
Heaven knew when she would have so many uninterrupted 
hours of Francis’s company again, and she meant to make 
the most of them. 

Altogether it was a highly successful visit. Lady 
Causton had never had a party that went better, and for 
this Althea was partly responsible. She had that excellent 
“ gift of familiarity ” so valuable to the hostess. They 

83 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

promised to come for another visit soon, and motored back 
to London early Monday morning with hothouse flowers 
and two brace of limp pheasants. 

They were both conscious of that not unpleasant fatigue 
that comes from tension suddenly relaxed. Althea was 
sleepy and languid, and George said little. He dropped 
her at Wilton Crescent and then proceeded to the office, 
which he reached shortly after eleven. There was an 
American mail in, and he was soon engrossed in his letters. 
By the time he got home that night he hardly remembered 
his grievance, and if he did, was ashamed of it. 

After that week-end the time seemed to fly till Christmas, 
when it paused noticeably over the holidays, and dragged a 
little. They had a small Christmas tree for Cleve, and 
George gave Althea a handsome bracelet. She gave him a 
glass cocktail set and a new kind of cigarette lighter. The 
night after Christmas, Mary Monash, who had the hardi- 
hood to stay in town, gave a dinner-party. Francis was 
not there. He had gone, dutifully, to Hawfield Place, and 
later was going to San Moritz for the ski-ing. Althea was 
a little sad in consequence, and George wondered how much 
a woman ought to miss a man who was not her husband. 
He tried to imagine himself depressed because of the 
absence of some woman other than Althea, and failed. 
Mrs. Allgood wrote to him once to say that she wasn’t 
coming to London till the end of February, and hoped to 
see him then. 

Althea had not disliked Mrs. Allgood, but she had not 
particularly liked her. She avoided women who were 
cleverer than she was, though she cultivated men for that 
very reason. She took surprisingly little interest in Mrs. 
Allgood or her house, when George eventually described 
it to her, or in the fact that she was Kate Blaine. 

“ Actresses who axe^passees,^" she remarked, “ generally 
marry some old fogey and live in the country.” And she 
dismissed her from her mind. 

George came back from the office one afternoon in 
February and found Althea in the drawing-room with 

84 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Mary Monash. The two women were in arm-chairs on 
either side of the fire, and were talking in low voices. He 
was always glad to see Mary, but whenever he came upon 
two women talking together he felt himself to be in the 
presence of something acutely feminine and vaguely 
inimical to him. He said he would go upstairs and change, 
but Mary cried out : 

“ No, no ! There’s something I want to talk to you 
about, and I’ve got to go in fifteen minutes.” 

“ You arrived at exactly the right moment,” Althea said. 
“ Your advice and counsel are urgently required. Ring 
and we’ll have some cocktails.” 

“ The truth is,” said Mary, holding up her long and 
beautiful hand to shield her face from the fire, “ I’ve been 
trying to persuade Althea to come abroad with me, and 
now I want to persuade you to let her come.” 

“ Abroad ? ” George asked, feeling as though he had 
already consented and wishing he hadn’t. “ Abroad 
where ? ” 

” I thought to Cannes for a while,” she said. “ Then 
Genoa and Rome, and then perhaps Florence for a few 
weeks. We might be gone six weeks in all. And if she 
did come, couldn’t you join us somewhere for a fortnight ? 
Do, George. It would be delightful.” 

“ The answer to the last is in the negative, I’m afraid,” 
he answered. I couldn’t. About Althea — that’s an- 
other matter. But what about leaving Cleve ? ” 

“ Oh, my dear George, don’t be dramatic and remind 
me that I’m a mother. I know it. Cleve is in the best 
possible hands. Nanny is the most conscientious and 
capable creature in the world. You’re here. And if he 
should show any symptoms of illness naturally I’d come 
home at once. Do you realize I’ve never left Cleve for 
more than three days since he was born ? And you not 
so long, except that time when I had to come over here 
with your mother ? I think I need a little holiday.” 

“ Don’t nip Althea’s unselfish impulses in the bud,” 
Mary laughed. “ She’s consenting to come because I want 

85 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

her to. She brought up all the arguments against it before 
you came in. It would be lovely for me if she could. We 
get on surprisingly well, we’re both independent, and Fve 
got a very good character, I never quarrelled with anyone 
in my life. Fm sure it would be a success.” 

He reflected that this was the first time Mary Monash 
had ever asked for anything. Most of the favours and 
benefits — and they had been man5^ — ^had come from her. 
If she wanted Althea as her companion — and there were 
twenty women she might have chosen-^it was going to be 
pretty hard to say no to her. In fact he couldn’t say it. 
Of course Cleve would be all right; why shouldn’t he? 
As for himself — ^but what was the good of being selfish 
about it ? He got up and walked about the room, then 
came and stood by the fire facing the two women. 

“ About six weeks, you say ? All right, go ahead. If 
you want Althea, and she wants to go, that’s good enough 
for me.” 

Mary sprang up as though she would kiss him, but she 
only put her arm through his and pressed it. 

” George, you really are a lamb. It’s too kind of you. 
I’ll take such good care of her. I feel rather a wretch to 
separate two such fond souls, but I don’t think a few weeks 
apart ever did the fondest any harm.” 

” When do you want to start ? ” 

” I thought the end of this month or the first of March. 
That will give Althea plenty of time to buy some clothes, 
which she says she must do.” 

“ Then you’ll be back about the middle of April. Not 
any later ? ” 

“ No later, George, I promise you. Althea’s never been 
to Cannes, and I feel sure it would amuse her for a while. 
After that I thought we’d improve our minds in Rome and 
Florence. And if we go to Florence, Francis says he’ll 
join us, which would be delightful, I do wish you could 
come too.” 

“ Couldn’t you possibly, George ? ” Althea asked. 

No,” he answered shortly. He was sufiering from a 
86 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

sudden reaction. The mention of Francis’s name had 
changed the whole aspect of the trip for him. 

“ Well,” Mary said, “ I’m dining early, and I must be 
off. Now I can go ahead and make plans. Thank heaven 
you’re the sort of man who says yes or no. I do hate 
people who only say ‘ Perhaps ’ and ‘ We’ll see,’ and then 
when the time comes don’t do anything.” She gathered 
up her furs, gloves and purse, kissed Althea, and shook both 
George’s hands with warmth. She told him he was the 
nicest of God’s creatures, and begged him not to come 
downstairs, as she could let herself out. She was, in fact, 
too quick for him, and was out of the front door before he 
was down the stairs. He returned to the drawing-room. 
For the last few minutes a storm had been brewing in him, 
stirred up by the feeling that he had been tricked into 
acquiescence, that the two women had planned this 
between them, and that Francis’s name had purposely 
been omitted until he had given his consent. 

As he came in again Althea said : 

“ Why on earth are you looking so gloomy ? Six weeks 
isn’t an^hing. You don’t really mind, do you ? ” 

With misleading composure he answered : 

” Oh, I guess I can bear it. I’ll have to, that’s all.” 

“ Well, don’t make me feel like a criminal. It takes 
away all the pleasure of it. If you don’t want me to go, 
why didn’t you say so when Mary was here ? ” 

He knew he had to say nothing or everything. He had 
either to assure her he was glad to have her go, or betray 
the fact that the whole thing had taken on a new com- 
plexion for him the moment he heard Francis would join 
them. 

“ It’s all right,” he said, without looking at her, “ I’ve 
said I didn’t mind, and I don’t.” 

It all might have ended there, but that Althea was 
irritated by what she considered the reluctance of his 
consent, 

“ Heavens above ! ” she exclaimed. “ Most wives 
would simply have announced that they were going.” 

87 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

George turned and faced her, and his look had altered. 

“ Perhaps you’ll tell me what most husbands would have 
done when they heard their wives’ admirers were going 
too.” 

She stared at him. 

“ George ! What on earth do you mean ? ” 

“ Oh, you women arei so damned deep ! ” he cried, 
exasperated. “ Why didn’t you or Mary say straight off 
that the whole object of the trip was to have Francis 
Mortlake with you ? You pretend it’s just you two going 
alone, and then, when I’ve consented, you spring it on me, 
and I see the whole thing’s a sort of plot. Anyhow, that’s 
what you’ve made it look like, and I’m damned if I like it. 
You’ve been discussing the best way to get round me. 
You planned and plotted the whole thing. Why couldn’t 
you be straightforward about it? You thought if you 
said Francis was going I might say no, that’s why.” 

Althea^s face seemed to freeze. Her eyes contracted and 
hardened, and her lips formed themselves into a straight 
hne. She stood at the other end of the fireplace, alert and 
erect, and there was battle in every line of her body. 

“ Then you think both Mary Monash and I are a pair 
of low schemers and intriguers ? You suggest that we are 
plotting and planning to go abroad with a lover or lovers ? 
Fm flattered, George, immensely flattered. After living 
with me all these years, that’s your considered opinion of 
me ? Well, think what you please of me, but kindly leave 
Mary out of it. A more honourable soul never lived. If 
you think Fd stoop to that, well and good, but I’ll have 
you know I’ll listen to no abuse of her.” 

“ Abuse ! Oh, good Lord, Althea. What are you 
talking about ? Have a little sense. I only said . . .” 

“ You said we had plotted and planned the whole thing. 
That’s about as outrageous a statement as even you could 
make. You evidently think Francis is or will be my lover. 
Again I’m flattered. If you think this, may I ask why you 
have never hinted at it before? Why. you have accepted 
favours from him, and welcomed him here again and 
, 88 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

again, and treated him like a friend ? If you’ve been har- 
bouring these suspicions . . 

“ Althea, shut up ! I won’t have it. I’ve harboured no 
suspicions of you or of Francis. Once you get under way 
you can turn anything I say into something else. Please 
be quiet until I’ve explained.” 

“ Explained ! ” she scoffed, “ You’ll have a pretty hard 
time doing that.” 

“ Please be quiet.” They had both lost their tempers 
now, and both knew it. “ I do not like the way you have 
been arranging to go abroad and be met by Francis Mort- 
lake abroad without telling me. You didn’t think of it for 
the first time this afternoon, either, and it’s no good saying 
you did. And I do not like the way he wasn’t mentioned 
until I’d said I couldn’t go but that you might. That’s aU 
I have to complain of, but it’s enough. I’m not going to 
say you can’t go, but I don’t like it, and I’m not going to 
pretend I do.” 

Are you aware that Mary wants you to come too ? ” 

“ She knows darned well I can’t drop everything here and 
go traipsing around Europe.” 

“ Oh ! Again you accuse her of cunning. You think 
she’s a rotten sort of woman, just as you think I’m a rotten 
sort of woman and Francis a rotten sort of man.” 

“ Althea, will you kindly shut up ? ” 

” No, I won’t. I know perfectly well what it all comes 
from. It’s that narrow, hateful, Puritanical streak in you 
that’s in most Americans, and that makes them see evil in 
everything but what they do themselves. You can’t 
imagine Mary and me going abroad and being joined by a 
man who is as much your friend as he is mine without 
suspecting the worst. I think it’s absolutely horrible. 
Horrible ! I don’t see how you can possibly . . .” 

“ Althea, if you say one more word like that I’ll turn you 
over my knee and spank you. I was jealous, if you want 
to know. I admit it. I am jealous.” 

“ Oh, you admit it ? Well, that clears the air a little. 
Quite apart from the things you have said and hinted 

89 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

about me, will you now kindly apologize for the out- 
rageous things you said against Mary ? ” 

“ I didn’t say anything against Mary. Anyhow, I never 
intended to. I like her, and you know it. I think she’s a 
nice woman. But there isn’t one of you who won’t scheme 
for what you want.” 

“ You’ll take that back too, please. It’s an absolute lie. 
Neither Mary nor I have been guilty of any scheming 
whatsoever.” 

“ Now look here, Althea . . .” 

“ I tell you it’s a lie. If Mary didn’t mention Francis’s 
name till after you’d consented, it was the merest chance, 
and because she didn’t think it particularly important. 
Why should she ? Good heavens, she’s known him since 
they were children. I suppose because Mary and Francis 
are English you think it follows that they’re immoral. 
You’re like Albertine Peters.” 

“ For goodness’ sakes, Althea, leave nationalities out of 
this, and don’t make ridiculous statements. I tell you I 
was simply . . .” 

“ You were simply being a hundred per cent. American, 
that’s ,all. You’d shut your eyes to anything and every- 
thing that went on in your own country, and suspect evil 
where it doesn’t exist in every other. I’m sick to death of 
the American mentality and the American point of view. 
I’m beginning to be sick of everything American. I sup- 
post you think that because Francis doesn’t grind out 
money all day long or sell something, that he’s a waster and 
a libertine, and that because Mary’s grandfather didn’t 
carry bricks or oil an engine or eat pie in his shirtsleeves, 
she’s necessarily decadent.” 

“ Althea, for God’s sake, what’s the good of trying to 
talk to you when you go on like that ? You credit me with 
ideas I never had in my life, and twist everything I say 
before I’ve finished saying it. If you want a quarrel, all 
right, we’ve had it, and now let’s cut it. I’ve said you could 
go, and I’ll stick to what I skid. Now, that’s enough.” 

” It’s not enough. If Mary had happened to say in the 

90 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

beginning that Francis was going to join us in Florence, 
would you have let me go ? ” 

His own feelings in regard to Francis and Althea having 
now been plainly and nakedly revealed to him, he 
answered : 

“ I would have asked you not to.” 

“ You still think, then, that it’s a plot ? That Mary is 
allowing me to make use of her in order to further an 
affair with Francis ? ” 

“ No, I do not think that,” he almost shouted. Out of 
all this welter of words and feelings just one fact remained 
where it was, and he re-stated it — it was the only safe thing 
to do when everything else he said was capable of a hundred 
interpretations in the mind of an angry woman. “ I tell 
you, Althea, I’m jealous of Francis Mortlake. I’ve owned 
up to it, and I repeat it. I’m jealous. I think you like 
him an awful lot, and I know damn well he’s in love with 
you. Well, how can you expect me to be pleased at the 
idea of your going away and seeing him all day and every 
day in Florence, or some such place? It wouldn’t be 
human, and I guess I am human, that’s all. Now do what 
you like about it.” 

She looked at him icily. 

“ Very well, then. I’ll tell Mary you believe I want to 
go abroad in order to commit adultery with Francis, and 
that therefore I can’f go. That’s settled. Now I know where 
I am. And I know precisely and exactly what you think 
of me. We’ll say no more about it. I’m going up to dress.” 

He cried : 

“ Althea, I tell you . . 

She went swiftly out of the door and closed it. He 
rushed to it, to follow her, and met Grieves coming in for 
the cocktail glasses. The sight of her checked him for an 
instant, and he mounted the stairs more slowly. When he 
reached Althea’s door it was locked, 

“ Althea, let me in. I want to talk to you.” 

There was no reply. He only heard the opening and 
shutting of cupboards and drawers, and her brisk footsteps. 

91 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

He wasn’t going to be overheard by the servants begging at 
his wife’s door, so he gave it up for the time being and 
began to change his clothes. Well, he’d gone and done it 
now. They’d had a quarrel, and a bad one. Their first. 
And it was about a man. Of course he had blundered. 
Althea had put him in the wrong in about fifty different 
ways. What was he going to do now ? Her last pre- 
posterous assertion that he believed she wanted to go 
abroad in order to commit adultery with Francis was S0 
outrageous as to be almost funny. Gosh, how women 
could put things ! Then he asked himself: 

“ Well, if that’s entirely untrue, why don’t I want her to 
go ? No, I’m damned if it’s that. I’m not afraid of her 
committing anything. Anyhow, that isn’t what matters 
first and foremost. What does matter is that she might get 
to like Francis Mortlake better than she likes me. That’s 
what I’m afraid of. This adultery business isn’t much more 
than a legal technicality when you come to think of it. 
What I’m afraid of is that she may get to like him best, 
and if she does that it’ll be plain hell for both of us. Because 
I don’t intend to let her go. I couldn’t let her go. I adore 
her. I’m crazy about her. She’s Althea. If she got to 
like him best it would be awful. Awful ! She won’t, 
It’s only a sort of thrill she gets . . . the excitement of 
novelty. But he is attractive; he’s a whole lot more attrac- 
tive than I am. I guess we might as well admit that. 
But that’s nothing. It doesn’t amount to a thing. She 
loves me all right. Of course she does. Only I suppose 
I’d better make a generous gesture and tell her she’s got 
to go, and apologize. Maybe she won’t go now. And 
nobody likes anyone any better for making them unhappy. 
If I make her unhappy there’ll be hell to pay. And if I 
let her go, maybe there’ll be hell to pay too ! Oh, Lord, 
what had I better do ? What a fool I was to say they’d 
been plotting ! Of course they hadn’t. But when two 
women get their heads together they can work anything. 
How was I to know ? I guess I’ll have to apologize and 
make her go, that’s all. Francis is all right. There’s 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

nothing of the parlour snake about him. Well, he may be 
all right, but if a woman shows a man that she likes him 
an awful lot . . . Yes, but she doesn’t. She likes me best. 
She’s got Cleve, and pretty near everything she wants, and 
I’ve never stopped loving her for one minute. God, I wish 
she’d open that door. I could talk to her now. I’ll try 
again.” 

He put on his dressing-gown and knocked. 

‘‘ Althea, please. I’ve got something to say to you.” 

She answered crisply, “ Wait a minute,” and ten seconds 
later she opened the door. 

He went straight to her without speaking and put his 
arms around her and laid his head on her breast. For a 
moment she stood rigidly erect and tense. Then she 
relaxed, sighed, murmured George,” and he felt her 
fingers in his hair. 


93 



CHAPTER VIII 


Francis came up from Hawfield Place, spent a few days in 
London, then went on to San Moritz, He gave a small 
dinner-party at his flat before he left, and asked Althea, 
George, Mary and the Benningtons, who came from 
Cambridgeshire on purpose for it and put up at a cheap 
hotel in Bloomsbury for the night. After dinner they went 
on to the Embassy. 

Francis had every intention of meeting Althea and Mary 
in Florence, and tried to persuade George to join them* 
George wondered if he couldn’t possibly have managed it 
for two weeks, but even if he could — and he was sure he 
oughtn’t to — it was out of the question for him to go now, 
since his quarrel with Althea, for it would look as though he 
were going simply to keep an eye on her. So he merely 
repeated that he was too busy, and that there was no one 
he could leave in charge of the office during his absence. 

“ Then you ought to find someone,” Althea said. “ It’s 
ridiculous. I’ve heard any number of men sky that success 
in business is very largely a matter of deputizing and dividing 
work. If a man is indispensable, as George thinks he is, 
what’s going to happen in the event of his illness, or some 
accident ? And if he isn’t indispensable, he ought to be 
able to leave his work without its collapsing, and go abroad 
for two weeks with his wife.” 

“ We’ll take an extra long holiday in the summer,” 
George told her. 

” Anyway, George,” Francis said, “ I’m not at all sure 
you’d be amused in Florence, The two girls are bent on 
sightseeing, and sightseeing in Florence is no laughing 
matter. There are more pictures, statues, churches, fres- 
coes, and other objects of art to be seen there than in any 
other one place in the world.” 

“ I’d rather like that for a while.” 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ George,” cried Althea indignantly, “ when you know 
perfectly well I can’t even drag you to the National 
Gallery ! ” 

“ Well, I know, but that’s different. There are always so 
many other things to do in London or New York.” 

“ I haven’t been to Florence for fifteen years,” Francis 
said. “ I want lo sec the old brown Arno again, and look 
up one or two old friends, and hear the latest gossip — 
think of the gossip that must have passed from mouth to 
mouth there in fifteen years ! Enough to make about ten 
Sagas — and I want to go to Siena and San Gimignano, and 
gaze sentimentally at the view from Fiesole at sunset, and 
greet Donatello’s David and Giorgone’s Concert, and once 
more adore the Benozzo Gozzoli frescoes. The others can 
do as they please.” 

“ What a fool I was to make that row,” George was 
thinking. “ Everything’s all right.” He got up to dance 
with Clodagh Bennington, while Mary danced with Lord 
Bennington, and Francis and Althea sat and talked. “ All 
the same, they’ve got an awful lot in common, and he’s 
English, and she’s in love with everything English.” 

The Benningtons weren’t going abroad after all, as they 
had now lost all the money they had won a few weeks 
earlier. They asked George to come and stay with them in 
their modern brick villa and go to Newmarket while Althea 
was away, and he said he would. He warned them that he 
knew nothing about horses and less about racing. 

Too bad,” Lord Bennington said. “ I think you’d 
have liked racing. I think you’d have liked hunting, too. 
He’s got the look of a huntin’ feller, hasn’t he, Clodagh ? 
Try it one of these days, George.” 

George said it was too late now, that he’d never ridden 
in his youth. It was amazing the number of things these 
people expected him to do besides build up a business — 
and play golf. They expected him to ride, to be know- 
ledgable about horses and racing, to shoot, to read books, 
to know something about pictures and art in general, to 
play tennis. Where did thfey get the time for it, or expect 

95 



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him to get it ? Bennington, he supposed, had once been 
a man of leisure, but nowadays he worked in a busy stock- 
broker’s office, and came to London five days a week. It 
was his wife who looked after the racing. 

“ I like reading the hunting notes in the paper some- 
times,” he told them. “ There was one in The Times the 
other day. Part of it was like this : ‘ From Tapperton the 
bitches raced a fox with the wind on his cheek to Broom- 
hill.’ I liked ‘ with the wind on his cheek.’ ” 

Shortly after midnight, Francis leaned forward and 
whispered something to Mary. She said, her expression 
changing, “ Oh, then I’ll go quietly out.” He explained 
to the others, who saw there was something wrong, that 
Monash had just come in with his lady, and he didn’t want 
Mary to stay, nor did she want to stay, so he was taking 
her home. Her face had taken on the look of a woman 
who tries to hide a piercing pain. George looked covertly 
and with great interest at the newcomers, as the women 
gathered up their wraps and purses and Francis paid the 
bill, for none of them wished to stay if he and Mary went. 
He saw a handsome man with a look of breeding and 
intelligence glazed over with self-indulgence. He took, 
from his expression, a fatuous pride in his companion. She 
was magnificently dressed, and was a demi-mondaine of 
international fame. She might easily have passed for a 
Duchess among the uninstructed, and wore a look of bored 
aloofness, as though to be seen at a night-club, even the 
best and smartest, was somewhat cheapening. She was 
the type of woman, George supposed, toward whom a 
rich waster like Monash would inevitably gravitate. 

‘‘ Francis is so sweet to Mary,^’ Althea said, as they drove 
home after leaving the Benningtons at their hotel. “ He’s 
like a brother to her.” 

‘‘ You’d think any man would be good to her. Why 
doesn’t she divorce Monash ? ” 

‘‘ She’s a Catholic. I thought you knew that.” 

“ I did know it. But if my religion kept me from ; 
being reasonably and legitimately happy, I’d darn well 

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change it. She’d most likely marry someone else if she 
were free.’' 

“ I don’t know. Poor Mary. She adores him, even 
yet,” 

If he’d been good to her,” George remarked, “ she’d 
probably have been bored stiff with him by now.” 

‘‘ That type of remark doesn’t suit you, my dear George, 
And it doesn’t happen to be true. He’s the love of her life. 
There are women like that.” 

“ Well, it’s a rare breed.” 

“ A very good thing too,” retorted Althea. “ Look 
what it’s done to Mary.” 

The two women left London the first of March, and 
George went to Victoria to see them off. Mary had been 
lent a villa in Florence for part of March and April, but 
she had promised to bring Althea back in six weeks, and 
she was determined not to stay a day longer. 

“ Oh, well, look here . . .” said George. “ If you’re 
enjoying it and Althea wants to stay . . .” 

We’ll see,” replied Althea. 

He had brought them each some flowers; violets for 
Mary, and for Althea some yellowish orchids to wear on 
her fur coat. She kissed him affectionately, with a twinge of 
remorse at leaving him, 

‘‘ Good-bye, dear old George. Grieves will look after 
everything, and Mrs. Thompson knows exactly what you 
like to eat, so I don’t feel you’re going to suffer. I’ll write 
every few days. You’ll wire me if Cleve isn’t well, of 
course, but he’s never looked better, and I’m not going to 
worry.” 

Mary gave him her cheek to kiss. 

“ Good-bye, dear, kind George. I do so appreciate your 
letting me have Althea. I’ll take good care of her, bless 
you ! Don’t work too hard.” 

He watched the train out of sight, and then returned to 
the oflice. He was now a bachelor in London for the first 
time in his life, and the prospect afforded him no more 
delight than the prospect of being a bachelor in New York 

D 97 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

had done. He supposed he had been a bachelor so thor- 
oughly in his youth that by the time he married there 
was little charm left in that rather tiresomely untrammelled 
state. He had been an enthusiastic sower of wild oats, 
and by the time he met Althea had profited by the harvests of 
several years. There are three kinds of men. Those to 
whom the gay life is never attractive — they are rare — those 
to whom it never ceases to be attractive, and those who, 
like George, have tested it thoroughly and got bored with 
it. No, those early raptures were uncapturable now, and 
he knew it. He might go out once in a while with Harry 
Sullivan and have a late night, but that was chiefly for the 
amusement he got out of watching and listening to Harry 
Sullivan. He’d probably go to a few small parties in 
Althea’s absence, but most evenings he thought he’d stay 
at home and read. Mrs. Allgood had sent him Spengler’s 
“ Decline of the West,” and he was already deep in it. It 
had begun by giving him some severe shocks. He had 
been in the habit of thinking that the Western civilization 
was the only one worth mentioning, that it had been steadily 
growing and improving since the first century — the dawn 
of the only world that mattered, the modern world — and 
that it would go on improving, with America leading the 
way, indefinitely, or until it reached Utopia, the millen- 
nium. 

Tie believed that Cleve’s great-great-grandchildren would 
be skimming and darting here and there in foolproof aero- 
planes — he pictured them as small affairs, with multi- 
coloured wings — over an ideally beautiful countryside, 
entirely devoid of ugliness or tin cans. Everyone would be 
happy and rich, and would only have to work six hours a 
day — though sensible people like himself would work eight. 
America, which would be the first to discover the key to all 
these joys, would be the admired and envied of all the 
world. He saw her like a great, proud mother, with the 
puzzled little countries of Europe clustered about her knees 
while she taught them how to live. It was like one of those 
plaster groups one sees at Exhibition Fairs. 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Such was George’s dream of the future. The voice of 
Spengler cut through it like an alarm clock cutting through 
a morning sleep. Western civilization, whether in Ger- 
many or America, was all one to Spengler, and it was on 
the down-grade. Alarmed and fascinated, George fol- 
lowed the workings of his astonishing mind through the 
four hundred closely printed pages, and felt, at the end of 
it, that he would never be the same man again, and that he 
had passed through some great, soul-stirring experience. 
A thousand candies seemed to have been lighted in his 
brain. He longed to talk it over with Mrs. Allgood. He 
wrote to her, asking her when she was coming to take the 
iBat, and her reply was posted in London. 

“ My dear George Goodall,” she wrote, 

“ Fm glad to hear you liked that very square meal 
I sent you in the shape of a book. Fm in London, in my 
sister-in-law’s small flat in Westminster. Do you think I 
could persuade you both to come and dine one night ? 
If you think your wife would care to, send me a line, and 
Fll write and ask her. I’ll get a fourth and we’ll talk. My 
husband is safely in Pau — how ambiguous this sounds ! 
I mean he arrived there safely — and I am an urbanite for 
two months. I was starving for London. 

Yours very sincerely, 

“ Kate Allgood.” 

George’s heart warmed to her. How opportunely she 
had come ! What sane and comfortable joys her coming 
promised ! He rang her up that night and told her of his 
single state. 

“ Oh, well,” she cried. “ Then come to-morrow night 
and we’ll dine by ourselves.” 

He found her in a small flat in a small new building 
between two old houses in Westminster. She had made 
the place look attractive by a pleasing arrangement of 
flowers and lamps, but he could see that her sister-in-law’s 
taste was not wholly in accord with her own, and he 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

remembered the loveliness of Mullion as a background for 
her with regret. 

‘‘ How nice to see you,” she said, adding with a laugh, 
‘‘ and how nice to see you alone ! 1 would have been 

charmed if your wife could have come, but I’m even more 
charmed to see you again like this — only, poor soul, you 
must miss her terribly.” 

I do,” he admitted. ‘‘ It’s all right in the day- 
time, at the office, but when I get home . . . ! Well, 
I guess rU have gotten used to it a little by next 
week.” 

“ She went with Mary Monash, you said.” 

” Yes. They’re in Cannes now, having a fine time, and 
the idea is that later on they go to Florence and meet 
Francis there.” 

” Francis in Florence. How lovely ! I like Florence 
so much better than Venice. Venice is too exacting. A 
Frenchman of my acquaintance calls it the city of V amour 
obligatoire. Personally I always feel there as though the 
spirits of all its departed had presented me with an album 
and asked me to write some appropriate sentiment therein. 
But what a lucky woman to be going in such good com- 
pany ! ” 

George was not as yet disposed to tell her of his feelings 
about the trip, although he suspected that he one day would. 
It struck him as curious that out of all the women at 
Whittleworth Mrs. Allgood was the one he liked best, and 
the one Althea had liked least. When, where, had this 
divergence in tastes begun? At home they had always 
liked the same people. . . . 

Mrs. Allgood was in black. The modelling of her fine 
arms was unspoilt by the years. They were firm yet 
flexible arms, and she used them a good deal in talking in 
a quite untheatrical but un-English way. Eyes, arms, 
anldes, George thought, those were the things to look for 
in a woman. They outlived all the rest. But Mrs. All- 
good was still in her riper, fuller youth. She suggested 
nothing so ephemeral as time. She suggested mellowness 

100 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

and completion. He had known little until now of the 
charms of forty-eight. He was to know more. 

She had brought two of her servants from Mullion with 
her, was most comfortably installed, and looked forward 
to her solitude. She said she didn’t mean to see very 
many people. 

“ London ! How I long for this time each year ! I 
passionately love the country and all that it means, but 
I’m urban, urban. Let it rain, let it fog, let it freeze, it’s 
all one to me here. There are picture-galleries, libraries, 
book-shops, theatres — theatres, Mr. Goodall, where I see 
women acting as though they’d never been on a stage 
before; the men are better — to say nothing of restaurants 
where I have the fun of choosing my table, my company 
and my claret. I hope to see you often. I sometimes bore 
women — I know I do, I feel it — but I never bore men. 
I bore woruen because I’d rather talk about things and 
ideas than about people. But I don’t really mind boring 
a woman now and again. They’ve bored me so often.” 

George thanked her for sending him “ The Decline of 
the West,” and said that he couldn’t get it out of his 
mind. 

” I feel as though there had been a hurricane inside my 
head,” he said. ” You know the way a hurricane sucks 
up everything in its path and carries things for miles. 
Everything that was in my head before seems to have been 
blown clean out, and a whole lot of strange things have 
been sucked in. Just take what he says about art and 
literature alone — why, he made me see them in a new light. 
He puts them on a par with mathematics. He makes the 
study of them a man’s job . . .” 

“ Alas ! ” mourned Mrs. Allgood, “ it has never yet 
been a woman’s job.” 

“ Well, I always used to think a man could leave all that 
to the women. And he makes me wonder if he isn’t right 
about our civilization.” 

She said, “ Other civilizations have consumed them- 
selves and died. Why not ours ? Everything else dies — 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

or undergoes a change. Why shouldn’t they ? Does the 
thought depress you ? ” 

He said it did : 

“ I liked the idea that we were handing on something, 
like a lighted torch.” 

“ At least let’s hope we’ll hand on a warning.” 

“ Oh, well, whatever the next civilization is, it’s sure to 
be better,” George said. “ The world’s bound to im- 
prove.” 

Good men are usually optimists,” she observed. “ I 
wonder why that is ? ” 

‘‘ Then you don’t believe in progress ? ” he asked, 
ignoring her accusation of virtue. 

“ I don’t know. I have fifty theories about life and time. 
I’ve learnt to distrust time utterly. I think it’s a cunning 
hoax. And without time, one can’t very well believe in 
progress, or what we call progress. I incline to the theory 
that everything in the universe, everything that is and has 
been and will be, is co-existing in space, and it’s only as we 
run our eyes over a tiny portion of it that we get the illusion 
of movement.” 

“ Good Lord ! ” said George. 

“ Yes. Some more claret for Mr. Goodall, Bettson. 
m lend you a book by a Russian philosopher that I think 
the most engaging philosophical work in the world, I got 
so excited reading it the first time that William repeatedly 
took it away from me. Whenever I want a mental stimu- 
lant I read it again. William, having a really scientific 
mind, never gets excited over anything, nor does he believe 
in anything except the speed of a ray of light. I like the 
more sensational theories about the universe, myself. 
They excite me.” 

“ Well,” George said, “ I never got any further than the 
‘ Origin of Species.’ ” 

“ You were lucky to get that far. You might have been 
born in Tennessee. Personally the origin of species in- 
terests me very little. I don’t care so much what man is 
as what the universe is, though it’s quite amusing to specu- 

102 



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late how we got here. Do you ever wonder how those 
little mites get into cheese ? ” 

I don’t think I ever wondered particularly.” 

“ Oh, I do. There you see a perfectly good bit of 
Cheddar.” She held it up on her fork. Now if I keep 
it long enough, an interesting little creature called, I believe, 
Tyroglyphus Something or other, will be discovered in large 
numbers therein. How did it get there ? Not from the 
outside. It’s a parasite, and a symptom of decay. Well, 
it seems to me quite possible that we, and all other forms 
of life here, are a symptom of decay too, and made our 
appearance in the same way. What f\in if we should prove 
to be mere parasites upon the body of some vast decaying 
organism ! Something that’s been kept too long.” 

“ Fun ! ” said George. “ If you call that fun . . .” 

“ Well, it’s fun to imagine. Have some cheese ? ” 

“ No thanks. Not after that. Do you spend a lot of 
time reading this sort of stuiff . . . philosophy and science ? ” 

She explained that she only read them in her lighter 
moments. 

I frolic with Ouspensky and Lodge, and people who 
explain Einstein, and then I turn my serious attention to 
the business of worrying about William, and housekeeping, 
and clothes. Those things really weary and tax the brain. 
The other is an excitement, a stimulant. I take philosophy 
as some people take whisky or drugs. I’ve got quite drunk 
on theories about the space-time continuum.” 

“ I’ve suddenly discovered that I don’t know what I 
think,” George said. “ All the ideas I had before I’d just 
borrowed ready-made from some other moron.” 

Scepticism, ’J said Mrs. Allgood, “ is the beginning of 
all wisdom. I love a good sceptic. The people who 
irritated me most in your country when I was there — no 
doubt they’re all dead now — ^were the people who thought 
you a cynic if you didn’t believe in harps in heaven and 
affinities on earth.” 

“ I wonder what you were like at twenty ? ” George said 
suddenly, a little surprised at his own question. The maid 

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had placed fruit and port on the table, and they were alone. 

“ Do you mean in appearance ? I have hundreds of 
photographs.” 

“ No, I don’t mean in appearance.” 

“ Now that’s a question a woman loves to be asked. 
Let me see if I can tell you. I was a very earnest young 
woman, I think, and in love with my profession. I took 
my art very seriously. I didn’t know then that it wasn’t 
an art at all, but a kind of craft. All the same, I loved it. 
Oddly enough, men mattered to me very little in those days. 
Only my work mattered, and myself. I was hideously 
egoistic, and I was the despair of a good many frustrated 
males. But after thirty I changed. I loved men. I was 
insatiable. I wanted them to talk to me and listen to me 
by the hour, and I had some terrific love affairs.” 

Lovers ? ” George wondered, but he didn't ask. He 
preferred to guess. 

“ But somehow they were always disappointing, though 
I don’t regret them. I was in love with a married man — 
not an actor, I never loved an actor — when I met William, 
He had a nice wife and several children, so I ended it, as 
best I could, and I was suffering as a man suffers whose leg 
is roughly amputated, when William began his pursuit of 
me, William at the stage door — well, you’ve seen him, so 
I needn’t tell you what an odd sight that was. It touched 
me in the strangest way. He always hated the theatre. 
He said acting was a bastard art — it’s been said before and 
since — and he disliked actors and actresses. I think it was 
partly to remove him from a milieu he so heartily detested 
that I married him.” 

She was silent for a moment, then she^ raised her fine 
arms above her head, sighed, and said, “ How thankful 1 
am that I did ! ” and got up from the table. He followed 
her into the small sitting-room, where they had liqueurs 
and coffee. He took pleasure in watching her sure and 
purposeful movements, her intent and lively face. She 
inspired him with confiidence; in herself, in him, in almost 
everything. The fire jffuttered pleasantly in the grate. 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Outside a cold rain was being driven along the streets, 
that shone and reflected like canals, but inside it was warm, 
and the light complimentary and soft, and Mrs. Allgood 
talked — “ The older I get,’' she said, “ the more I 
like talking, and the less I can resist the impulse ” — and 
George talked too, as he had never talked before in his life. 

Would he like to come again on Thursday? He cer- 
tainly would. Then she’d ask some nice couple. Oh, he 
begged, couldn’t they just have another evening like that 
one, by themselves ? Or they might go to a play, she 
suggested. 

“ No, let’s do this again. If we go to a play we’ll have 
to hurry through dinner and rush off*. I don’t know when 
I’ve enjoyed an evening as much as this. And Saturday 
night you know you promised to come out with me some- 
where.” 

When he had gone, Mrs. Allgood sat down and wrote a 
letter to her husband. She felt in the mood for writing. 

“ George Goodall has just been here. He dined with me 
alone, as his wife’s away. I think he enjoyed every minute 
of it, which is most flattering to me, William, when you 
consider my years. (As a matter of fact, I wonder if I’m 
not more attractive now, in some ways, than I ever was 
before ?) He really is the most likeable soul, and I plainly 
see that I’m going to be very fond of him. His mind is 
somewhat untilled, and I’ve been doing some rather ruthless 
digging. But it’s a charming mind, and both humorous 
and sane. I feel he wants stirring up, so I showed off a 
little to-night, as I sometimes do when you’re not about, 
and now I’m feeling a little ashamed of myself. He took 
home a book on the old Italian Masters, which struck me 
as wistful and pathetic. He evidently means to follow his 
wife step by step through the galleries of Florence, where 
she is soon to be. He’s too busy to go abroad himself. 
I told you I thought her a hard, cold little thing, but ex- 
tremely attractive, and so far I haven’t had cause to change 
my opinion. But enough of this gossip. 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Give my love to Emmaline. I know she’s always per- 
fectly happy in Pau, with you, bless her heart. There are 
times, William, as you know, when I overflow with love for 
all us poor creatures here, and on these occasions — to-night 
is one of them — I feel I could die for Emmahne, or live 
with her, or do anything for her, and the fact that she 
doesn’t like me, and never has and never will, doesn’t 
matter a jot. Yes, to-night I love the whole pathetic, 
ridiculous world, and you, my darling, most of all and 
more than ever.” 


106 



CHAPTER IX 


Althea sent George a stream of postcards. She sent them 
from Cannes, from Monte Carlo, from Grasse, from the 
restaurant under the high bridge at the Gorge de Loup. 
She usually wrote on them, “ I do wish you were here.” 
It was true: she did wish it quite frequently. She felt that 
George was missing a great deal, above all the chance of 
seeing for himself the endless attractions and joys of Europe. 
The charm of “ foreign-ness ” appealed to her irresistibly, 
and she thought that one of the chief advantages of 
England as a place of residence was its convenience as a 
jumping-off place for every foreign part. She wanted 
George to see for himself — he couldn’t, alas ! imagine it — 
the varied and amusing world that lay at London’s very 
threshold. 

“ America is so terribly far away from everything,” she 
complained to Mary. 

‘‘ But it seems to me almost everything’s there,” Mary 
once answered. She had a firm belief that America was a 
sort of self-contained Paradise. She often wondered at 
Althea’s delight in the things that were such an old story 
to her, and thought that America must contain within its 
own vast boundaries everything reason could desire. 

'' I’m certain I could be happy there,” she insisted. 

Well, I just wish you’d try it, my dear,” Althea 
answered. “ I’d give a lot to see you trying to live in 
the way you’re used to living, and on the same income, in 
New York. I’d laugh myself to death.” 

Mary had a little house full of old panelling in a little 
street near St. James’s Palace. She had a perfect maid, a 
cook who had been with her father in Berkshire for twenty 
years, and an admirable manservant. Her house ran so 
smoothly that she was hardly conscious it ran at all. She 
was one of those unfortunate women who have one great 

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sorrow which dwarfs every other possible sorrow into 
insignificance. She thought money troubles — she had 
never had them — unimportant. She thought all troubles 
unimportant but the kind she herself had to endure. 

If a woman is tolerably happy with her husband and 
is loved, nothing else matters,” she said. 

" Everything else matters,” Althea returned with con- 
viction. 

She sent more postcards from Rome. She had been 
there years before with her rather belligerently virtuous and 
irritable father, but she now saw it in a very different light. 
She was sentimental enough to make inquiries about her 
old Italian admirer, and learnt that he had been killed on 
the Trentino. She couldn’t help reflecting that but for her 
father’s interference she might possibly have been the 
Marchesa di Montesanto, romantically widowed. Mary 
had a friend at the British Embassy who squired them here 
and there, but they were tired of staying in hotels, and as 
soon as the villa was ready for them they went on to Flor- 
ence. This happened on the first day of April,* a day 
Althea recorded in her diary — while abroad she kept a 
diary — with the comment, “ I hope this isn’t an omen ! ” 

They arrived late in the afternoon, and for the first time 
saw the magical blue dusk of Tuscany that seems full of 
incense and gauzy, floating veils. A virile taxi took them 
and their luggage through the incredibly narrow and 
crowded streets of the town, by a system of dartings, dash- 
ings, abrupt stoppings, breathless turnings and furious 
hootings, and once out of the town their progress was 
fantastic and birdlike. 

“ Francis wouldn’t care for this,” Althea said, as she 
and Mary were thrown together at a sharp, upward curve. 
Looking back, she saw the lights of Florence huddled 
together, like topazes lying in a blue velvet lap. 

Mary, inhaling the air that blew in through the open 
window, said : 

‘‘ Blossoms ! Wistaria ! I can smell them. Oh, isn’t it 
lovely to be here ? ” 


108 



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“ r could cry with joy,” Althea answered. I can hardly 
believe my own luck sometimes.” 

The villa belonged to an Englishwoman married to an 
Italian of advanced years. She wrote feverish novels about 
Roman and Florentine society, and lived at the villa while 
she worked, as she considered Florence a better milieu for 
literary work than Rome. 

It was discovered at length behind high iron gates set in a 
high wall in a lane more than half-way up to Fiesole. A 
man in a striped apron opened to them, and introduced 
himself as Dante. They saw in the fading light a white 
house with green shutters surrounded by ilex trees and little 
cypresses, and through the wide-open front door they could 
see into a small, bright hall hung with tapestries. Althea 
spoke no Italian, Mary very little, but they expressed their 
satisfaction with smiling faces and exclamations of pleasure. 
While their things were being taken upstairs, they stood 
reading the letterst^ that were waiting for them on the hall 
table. There was one for Mary from Francis, and one for 
Althea from Francis, as well as one from George. She 
stood reading them in a happy glow. “ Poor old George ! 
. . * How he does adore me ! ” she thought . . . and a 
love-letter from Francis ; at least it could hardly be called 
anything else. Mary read hers aloud. It was from Milan. 

“ Dear Mary, 

“ I’ll be with you April 2nd, about four. The train 
gets in at three-thirty, I believe. I stopped off here to look 
at the pictures. They’re good, of course, but what a city ! 
It’s pandemonium. I didn’t sleep a wink last night. I’m 
looking forward enormously to being with you in Florence. 
I pray we have good weather. 

“ Always affectionately, 

“ Francis.” 

Althea said that hers was from Milan too, and contained 
much the same news. She put it away in her purse with 
George’s, and said : 


109 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Now let's see the house.” 

They went from room to room with little cries of delight. 
Mary thanked heaven, she said, that her friend’s lack of 
restraint and faults of taste were confined to her books, and 
entirely absent from her house. There was nothing wrong, 
nothing disappointing. The living-rooms were charming, 
the bedrooms perfect, Mary’s, Althea’s, Francis’s, all in a 
row and all overlooking the terrace at the back, with its 
grape-arbours, and its half-acre of skilfully planned garden, 
where a fountain played into an oblong pool surrounded by 
lemon trees and small cypresses. Below and beyond were 
the lights of Florence. Althea leaned on her window-sill, 
her heart overflowing with satisfaction and deep content. 
A bird sang . . . surely, surely that was a nightingale ! 
She had heard them in England, in the summer. She 
called out to Mary in the next room : 

“ Mary, listen to that bird. Isn’t it a nightingale ? It 
sounds like one all right.” 

Mary, after listening for a moment, called back : 

“ Yes, it’s a nightingale. They begin early here.” 

It was singing in those dark trees — ilex trees Mary had 
said they were. How lovely ! And Francis was coming to- 
morrow . . . to-morrow, only a few hours from now. It 
was almost too much bliss. 

In the morning she woke late, tired with the journey and 
the sightseeing in Rome. She could hear the pleasant 
whine of a woodcutting machine beyond the garden wall, 
and smell the smoke of newly-lighted house fires. She rang 
the bell for her breakfast tray. Francis was coming to- 
day . . . and what a day ! She watched the sun mount 
higher in a flawless sky as she ate her breakfast of coffee, 
fresh rolls and butter, and honey. She would have at least 
two weeks of this. Two whole weeks. She was loved. 
The most desirable man she had ever met was enslaved by 
her, and she would have opportunities for charming and 
enslaving him still more. She thought she would like to 
have been one of those ladies of Provence in the tenth and 
eleventh centuries, with their worshipping troubadour poets 

no 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

and theij hdmage-paying knights. What an exquisite 
existence for a beautiful woman ! 

She wanted all the warm and comfortable joys of being 
loved, of being sought, of being desired, without the pains 
and risks of loving. She meant always to stop short of love 
herself. Women ought to be takers, not givers. The 
more you take the more you get, that ought to be every 
woman’s motto. That wasn’t cynical. That was just 
plain fact. She pitied poor Mary. Her husband cared 
nothing for her. Her dearest friend wrote her a short, dry 
letter, as though she were his sister. . . . She presently had 
an embarrassing few minutes with Angelina, the maid, who 
wished to know if she would like her bath before the other 
signora had hers, or after. She seized upon the word 
“ bagnOy^ and nodded and said, “ si, si, si,"^ again and again, 
but this seemed not to satisfy Angelina, who presently 
burst into a fit of laughter and had to run out of the room, 
returning presently with Mary, in her dressing-gown, and 
between the three of them the thing was settled satis- 
factorily. 

They rested that first morning, sitting in the sun on the 
terrace. Mary lay in a long, cane chair, looking fragile, as 
though she were exhausted, but she roused herself after 
lunch and sent for a taxi, and when it came she went down 
to meet Francis. Althea decided that she wanted him to 
see her first on that terrace, but as the sun declined it grew 
chilly, and after nearly an hour of decorative waiting, she 
was driven indoors for warmth. 

One of the most satisfactory things about Francis was his 
spontaneous way of expressing his pleasure. He was 
happy to be there, and said it and showed it. He was as 
delighted with the house as they were. He was even more 
delighted to be there with them. He approved of every- 
thing. 

‘‘ What news of George ? ” he asked Althea. “ I went 
back to England after San Moritz to see my mother, who 
was ill, but I was only in London a day, and didn’t see any- 
body. Is he coming ? ” 


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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Oh, no. He couldn’t get away. I was pretty sure he 
wouldn't come. We tried to persuade him, didn’t we, 
Mary ? ” 

Mary said George had a well-developed sense of duty. 

“ Oh, I like calling a spade a spade,” exclaimed Althea. 
“ What kept George from coming was an over-developed 
sense of salesmanship, bless his heart. Let’s be honest 
about it.” 

“ American husbands appear paragons of unselfishness 
to everyone except their wives,” Francis remarked. ‘‘ How- 
ever, I’ve no objection to being the only Adam here, so, 
much as 1 like George, I shall not spend my days repining. 
How do you manage to talk to the servants ? ” 

We don’t,” Mary said. “ We’re leaving that to you.” 

Francis spoke Italian with a somewhat pompous pre- 
cision, taking an obvious satisfaction in its superb vowels, 
and at Mary’s request he made all necessary arrangements 
with the three who made up the household staff, with con- 
siderable amusement on both sides. 

Althea, nervous and highly strung, felt that his coming 
had turned a key in her being, tightening all her nerve 
centres and increasing their tension. She felt charged with 
electricity and magnetism. Consciously and unconsciously 
she used every charm and every faculty to draw him to her, 
but so subtly that only he was aware of it. She managed to 
establish, as skilful women can, a kind of current between 
them, a subterranean stream that flowed darkly and in- 
visibly. 

The vast brown gloom of the Duomo was the stage, the 
next day, for their first clear and acknowledging looks of 
more than friendliness, of more than ordinary interest. 
Althea, gazing upwards at the great dome at Francis’s 
side, lowered her eyes, full of wonder, to his. And sud- 
denly they were staring at one another, wide-eyed and 
silent. Mary’s footsteps and the footsteps of other sight- 
seers seemed leagues away, across that immense floor. 
Their eyes held for whole seconds, wavered, and then 
parted. But outside once more in the brilliant white light 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

of the Piazza, she thought of that look again and again. 
Something had taken place, a little milestone had been 
reached and passed, and their eyes would never again meet 
without something of that look in them and some memory of 
the emotions that had accompanied it. Love, out of such 
moments, makes himself a fine horse to ride upon, and 
springs into the saddle. To Althea, love, until now, had 
gone ploddingly on foot. The fiery rider with spurs she 
knew nothing of, and, knowing nothing, she feared nothing. 

They found it advisable to hire a car for the duration of 
their stay, and to the chauffeur Francis talked plainly. He 
was very delicate, he said, he had a weak heart, “ la 
malattia di cuore,’' and the slightest danger or accident 
might cause it to stop beating forever. Therefore a speed 
of more than so many miglia per hour might easily prove 
fatal. 

“ It’s funny,” Althea said, “ that you’re so fond of slow 
and stately motion in a car, when your favourite pastimes 
are ski-ing and ski-jumping.” 

“ Oh, my dear,” Mary answered for him, “ Francis is 
made up of pleasing contradictions. Never look for con- 
sistency in him. Constancy perhaps, consistency never.” 

Spring had come early to Florence that year. Wistaria 
foamed in odorous waves over arbour and wall, Judas trees 
held up their brilliant magenta blossoms against a sapphire 
sky, purple and white and yellow irises marched among their 
green swords along garden paths, the fruit trees shook down 
their blossoms upon emerald grass, and in the endless vine- 
yards, in the plains and on the steep hillsides, the grape- 
vines joined hands as in some grave, ceremonial dance, and 
held up twisted, imploring arms to receive their garlands of 
new leaves. 

Althea was all but bewildered by the onrush of new im- 
pressions. Leaving the seductions of the countryside out of 
it — and they couldn’t, any more than they could leave Siena 
and San Gimignano out of it — ^there were still the galleries, 
the Bargello, the streets, the people, the endless churches,* 
the palazzos. It was too much, too rich and lavish to enjoy 

113 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

fully in two short weeks. And there was Francis. . . . 
He now filled, and alone, the whole foreground of her mind. 
Her thoughts were busy with him constantly. Whatever 
she saw, she wanted to see through his eyes, or wanted him 
to see through hers. The Judas trees were living and 
wonderful because he saw them too, the Benozzo Gozzoli 
frescoes were an unforgettable experience because she saw 
them at his side. George’s frequent and loving letters 
seemed to come from another and dimmer world, and their 
messages hardly printed themselves on her brain before 
they faded again. 

To rest their eyes and minds, they motored to Vallom- 
brosaand picnicked there high up on a sunny hillside among 
the climbing woods, unleafed as yet, of chestnut, mixed 
with pine. They found the lovely blue scilla, the honey- 
scented daphne, the pale crocus, and here and there the tops 
of the young poplars showed a golden nimbus of tiny, 
unfolding leaves against the sun. 

Mary, in one of her silent and introspective moods, 
wandered away after lunch, following a path through the 
woods and turning once to wave a hand in farewell. She 
was like a young girl thwarted in love, Althea mused, to 
whom beautiful and romantic scenery is at the same time a 
delight and an agony. But her thoughts soon flew back to 
herself. It was the first time she had been alone with 
Francis in such a place, and her good fortune — and his — 
seemed to her miraculous. She lay stretched out on a rug 
in the sun, resting her head on her elbow, and the lines of 
her charming body were as pleasing to the eye as the lines of 
the hills sloping down toward the plain. Francis was 
sitting with his hat tilted over his eyes, smoking and looking 
at her, and wondering at the ease with which women dis- 
posed themselves upon the ground, while he found sitting 
or lying equally uncomfortable. 

“ It’s odd,” he said, “ how one’s wishes are sometimes 
fulfilled without the slightest effort on one’s own part. 
"Years ago when I was in Florence I came here alone, and it 
turned out to be one of those significant days, all the details 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

of which — for some obscure reason — stamp themselves on 
the memory. You’ve had days like that, I expect. Every- 
one has. As I look back, I see it as one of the little mile- 
stones in my life, and it’s as clear as possible. One of the 
things I remember best was wishing 1 wasn’t here alone — 
and naturally it was a female companion 1 wished for. I 
told myself I’d come back some day, and under the right 
conditions. The place fascinated me. It’s partly the 
name, 1 think, which suggests both Valhalla and ambrosia. 
And chestnut groves have an even more classic beauty to 
me, than olive groves. Well, when I first saw you in 
Biarritz last summer, my mind did a very curious thing. It 
jumped back to that day here when I was twenty, and it set 
you in the empty place. It was an odd trick for it to play. 
What the association of ideas was, I can’t imagine, for 
there’s, nothing classic about you. And now here you 
actually are, in the flesh. And I’ve done nothing whatever 
to bring it about.” 

Althea said nothing. She preferred to be silent. The 
moment suddenly became heavy with significance, with 
portent. If that day fifteen years ago had been a milestone 
for him, this day would be one for her. 

“ The things that come without effort on our part,” he 
went on, “ I always think of as destiny. Things we get by 
working and by managing I look on as causality. The two 
types of event seem to me quite distinct and separate, and 
oughtn’t to be confused. The first come trailing clouds of 
glory. The second are more like receipted bills. I’m 
extremely grateful for this charming bit of destiny.” 

She was still silent. She loved listening to his voice. 
She wanted him to go on and on, to further revelations, to 
further indiscretions. He reached for her hand, took it, and 
her fingers closed responsively round his. 

“ Silence becomes you very well,” he said, “ particularly 
when I say things I shouldn’t say, which I’ve hardly begun 
to do yet. Don’t utter a word. Go on looking at the view 
and let me look at you. You have a delightful way of 
replying. Your nostrils quiver very, very slightly, and your 

115 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

eyes widen. You’re a skilful creature, Althea. 1 wish I 
could forget George among his office furniture.” 

She turned her head toward him. 

“ Since you’ve made me think of George,” she said, 

what about him ? He could have come. By staying in 
London he thought he might sell a few more desks.” 

“ If you’re unfair to George,” said Francis, raising her 
hand to his face and kissing it, “ I shall have to take his 
side, and 1 don’t want to do that, heaven knows.” 

It was the first time any sort of caress had passed between 
them, and perhaps because of their previous restraint and 
their careful avoidance of even the lightest demonstrations, 
nothing that she had ever experienced had been able to stir 
her as deeply as the touch of his lips on her palm. 

“ You know precisely how 1 feel about George,” she 
said, her voice controlled and steady, ” so we needn’t go 
into that.” 

“ I think I do know. That’s where the danger lies. 
Shall I proceed to act on that knowledge, or shall I not ? ” 

“ You’d better not, my dear Francis,” she said, crisply, 
for she was on the defensive now, ” I’m quite capable of 
being bored by two men at the same time.” 

He laughed at this. 

“ A rough one for me, and a rougher one for George.” 

She took away her hand and sat up. 

“ Francis, listen. When I say I’m bored with George, I 
don’t want you to misunderstand me. I mean Fm bored 
with what he stands for. There are times when the mere 
mention of the words ‘ sales ’ and ‘ salesmanship ’ makes 
me want to scream. You know what a darling George is. 
I am fond of him, but his point of view drives me nearly 
crazy. He’s so complacent, he’s always so sure he’s right, 
he’s so one hundred per cent. American. The way he 
yearns for the Saturday Evening Post every Friday, the im- 
portance he gives to every word he reads in the American 
papers, the way he talks about the President as if he were 
talking about God — all those things irritate me nearly to 
death.” She broke off. “ I know I’m a devil to say this.” 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Francis had listened to the outburst of more than one 
highly-strung wife, 

“ My dear Althea, it’s matrimony you’re kicking against, 
not George. You’d better face it.” 

“ It isn’t. I’m much too conventional to kick against 
matrimony. I like marriage. I think married life is the 
only life for a woman. The only life for me, anyway. 
But if George was only ... if he would only . . 

“ Yes, I know,” broke in Francis, “ Poor old George ! 
How does he amuse himself while you’re away ? Does he 
go anywhere ? ” 

Oh, yes, he’s been dining out quite a lot.” 

” Does he say anything in his letters about Mrs. All- 
good ? He seemed to get on very well with her.” 

“ Yes. He’s been seeing her several times a week, I’m 
thankful to say.” 

“ She’s an attractive woman. I wouldn’t be too thank- 
ful.” 

“ A nice, comfortable soul, I should think.” 

” How badly women judge other women, on the whole. 
I’ve often noticed it.” 

“ Isn’t she a nice, comfortable soul ? ” 

” She’s a very attractive woman with a lot of vitality and 
an active mind. She’s got the most masculine brain with 
the most feminine make-up I’ve ever come across, and I 
like it.” 

” I prefer a feminine brain with a feminine make-up.” 

” I like that too,” he agreed; “ but the other attracts me 
as well. I’ve always thought I would have adored George 
Sand.” 

“ Perhaps you would. Then do you adore Mrs. All- 
good ? ” 

” No, We haven’t crossed each other’s paths enough 
for that. But I like her,” 

“ I believe,” she said, with the faintest hint of displeasure 
in her voice, ‘‘ that you’re one of those men who could love 
any woman provided her charms were above a certain level.” 

“ Certainly I could,” he said, “ given all the right circum- 

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NOW EAST. NOW WEST 

stances. So could any reasonable man. Let me tell you 
this. The man who makes a good lover is the man who 
loves women first and a woman afterwards. Every woman 
should learn this vital fact and never forget it. You want a 
man to be indifferent to women and yet be able to love and 
understand one woman. It can't be done, my dear Althea, 
outside of romantic novels. From the general to the 
particular is the rule in love. You can’t hate men and love 
a man. To know how to love one woman you must love 
all women, or the idea of woman, which is the same thing. 
Women, I know, want to be exceptions, but it’s utterly un- 
sound and absurd. There's only a small demand for the 
exceptional, and the market is hard to find.” 

“ Francis,” she protested, not caring much for the turn 
the conversation had taken, why argue with me about the 
relations of the sexes here on Vallombrosa ? ” 

” To keep myself from indiscretions. I thought of 
George in Lombard Street. Whenever I start an argument 
with you, my dear, you may be sure it’s because 1 want to 
kiss you. When I start arguments with other people it’s 
generally because I want to kick them. Let me hasten to 
say that there are far more people I want to kick than there 
are people I want to kiss. In fact the first class increases 
every year, and the second is in danger of being narrowed 
down to one.” 

” That, I feel, is as it should be,” she said, patting her 
thick, short hair into place with both hands. 

“ Althea, you’re a challenging and dangerous little devil. 
I’m not going to kiss you, all the same. Small pebbles 
have been known to start great landslides. When are you 
going to let your hair grow ? ” 

“ Never. I like it as it is.” 

“ Strange creatures ! Your fashions seem to be traps 
with which to catch or trip up one another. If you wanted 
wholeheartedly to catch men you’d never change yourselves. 
You’d outline your waists and hips and leave your hair long. 
This so far tolerably discreet tdte-a-tete is over. I sec 
Mary returning to us.” 


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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Did you persuade her to leave her hair long ? ” 

“ She needed no persuading. The lady who enslaved 
Dick Monash wears hers short, and that was enough for 
Mary.” 

“ Do you think he’ll ever go back to her ? ” 

“ Monash ? Never. Such an offence against love is 
never forgiven by the offender.” 

“ I do hate to see her so unhappy.” 

“ She’s not altogether unhappy. She couldn't be and 
keep her looks so well. Or perhaps one great sorrow pre- 
serves a woman’s beauty better than a multitude of small 
anxieties.” 

They started back before the sun got too low, and 
descended the steep, twisting road with admirable restraint. 
Before they reached Florence it was dark and cold, and 
the stars were out. Francis sat between the two women, 
and for the last few miles they drove in silence. Althea 
thought of that half-hour alone with him on the hillside, 
and wished she could be as close to him in mind as she 
was then and now in body. She longed to be able to 
touch his remote and unknown spirit as easily as she could 
touch the shoulder of his coat in the dark with her check. 

She had never before felt this yearning tenderness, this 
yearning desire for mental — even more than for physical — 
contact with a man. She had imagined that the act of 
falling romantically in love was very like tumbhng headlong 
over a cliff or precipice, and the picture had always made 
her shrink and draw back in her thoughts. She now saw 
that it was nothing of the sort, that it was far more like an 
excursion along a charming path into a kind of enchanted 
country. The regions beyond looked incredibly inviting 
and alluring, and gave her no hint of difficulty or danger. 
She would continue to find her way through them quite 
easily, and return if and when and how she pleased. 

“ It’s the woman who sets the pace, always,” she told 
herself. 

She was accustomed to picturing herself in relation to 
men as most pretty and fortunate American women picture 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

themselves — as a lion-tamer with a great whip round whom 
the lions crouch and perform and obey, gather themselves 
sometimes, rocking, for a possible spring, but through fear 
of the whip never leap. Only one man had ever attempted 
to dominate her, her short-tempered father, but as he con- 
trolled every five-doUar bill that passed through her fingers, 
controlled the very breath she drew, such a domination 
was not difficult. But in every other relationship with men 
she was conscious of belonging to the sex that held the 
centre of the ring. To be a woman was to have the whip 
given into one’s hands. To be a pretty and high-spirited 
woman was to find out the secret of cracking it. 

They dined late that evening in the little dining-room 
with the white plaster walls and red curtains and red-tiled 
floor. The food was of that simple and good Italian sort 
that seems to combine the taste of the peasant with the 
taste of the epicure. They drank Italian wines, Asti 
Spumante, or Rufina, and after dinner the aromatic Strega. 
In the drawing-room they sat and talked by the fire, and the 
conversation turned on matrimony. Francis maintained 
that marriage was for the brainless, that intelligent people 
should make other arrangements. 

“ Any man or woman,” he said, ” who is able to pass a 
certain mental test ought to be let off. People should be 
examined physically to see if they are fit for it, and mentally 
to see if they’re unfit for it. In other words, physical fitness 
should let one in and mental fitness should let one out. 
Look at the divorce courts — full of intelligent people who 
can’t make it work. To marry happily one needs an 
uninquiring, single-track mind. Morons make the best 
husbands, placid, stupid and productive women the best 
wives. The higher up in the mental scale you go, the more 
failures you find. Look at the married lives of geniuses ! ” 

Althea argued with spirit but without heat. She had 
discovered in less than a year that the difference between 
the talk of Americans and the talk of Englishmen is that 
the Englishman hates stating the obvious, and the American , 
if it happens to be what he thinks, doesn’t mind. In the 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

ears of the self-conscious Englishman are the echoes of a 
million voices saying the same thing, and some saying it 
better than he can ever hope to say it, so he tries to say it 
in some other way, or says what he doesn’t think at all, 
just for variety. That is why an Englishman — apart from 
a certain type of politician who is the same the world over 
— hates utterances of a patriotic nature. They remind him 
of all the bad and sententious speeches that have ever been 
made, and he shudders. The American is less troubled by 
echoes. If George had been asked his opinion of matri- 
mony by Harry Sullivan, he might have turned it off with 
a funny story. If Mary had asked him, he would have 
tried to say exactly what he thought, and it would have 
been an answer that a girl of sixteen wouldn’t have blushed 
to make. There would have been a flavour of robust 
optimism in it, and the sound of angels’ wings, and some- 
thing of the last pages of a million popular novels. But he 
would have said it just the same. 

Not so Francis. That was why talking to him had be- 
come such a pleasurable affair for Althea, now that she 
had grasped these differences. He wasn’t afraid to say 
what he didn’t think. If people misunderstood him, that 
was their look-out. 

Mary laughed and threw in a word here and there, but 
she wasn’t in the mood for such arguments, and she pre- 
sently got up and went to the piano. She had found some 
old Italian songs in a cabinet, and she now took them out 
and in a low, pleasant voice sang, “ Se tu m’ami,” and 
“ Pastorella.” Her long fingers fell lightly and easily on 
the keys, and a peace fell on the room, as though the notes 
had convinced not only the listeners, but the very tables and 
chairs, of the truth of their message — the folly of everything 
but music. 

When she had finished she said it was time for bed, and 
Althea agreed that it was, and went up with her, leaving 
Francis by the fire. The two women talked in Mary’s 
room for a while, discussing Francis — a topic full of interest 
for both of them — ^and then Althea went to her own room. 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

She began to undress, slowly, taking off her rings and neck- 
lace, but when she had done this she paused, thinking. 
A wish had come to her, a strong, active, imperative wish, 
to see Francis again for one moment, to say good-night to 
him, alone. They had had such a wonderful day, those 
moments alone with him on the hillside had been so lovely, 
she wanted to round it all off in some suitable way, to 
complete it. Why shouldn’t she go down again ? There 
was no reason at all. Anybody might have to go down 
again, to look for something, perhaps. What should she 
look for ? A book ? No, she had come up with her book 
under her arm. That bracelet, that was always falling off. 
She might easily have dropped it somewhere. It was just 
now that she would have noticed it. “ What a coward I 
am,” she thought, ” to want such an excuse.” But certain 
conventions must be observed, no matter how silly, and one 
didn’t go downstairs again after once going up without 
some reason. She took off her bracelet and went quietly 
out into the hall. Standing close to her door was a little 
table, and she laid the bracelet down just under it, in a 
shadow. Then she went to the stairs and descended slowly 
into the drawing-room. Francis heard her coming and 
got up. 

“ I must have dropped my bracelet somewhere, Francis. 
That one that’s always coming off. If it isn’t in plain sight, 
I won’t bother. 1 can look for it again in the morning, or 
Dante will find it, perhaps.” 

“ It can’t be far away,” Francis said. “ I’ve noticed it 
on your arm since dinner.” He searched the chair she had 
been sitting in and the carpet near it, while Althea went 
toward the piano and returned, her eyes on the floor. 

“ Never mind. It doesn’t matter. It’s probably up- 
stairs. I’ll look for it again as I go up.” 

He watched her as she went toward the stairs, and there 
was a sort of longing in the eyes of both. 

Good-night again, Francis.” Her voice was low. 

What a lovely day, wasn’t it ? I shall never forget it,” 
Yes. It was lovely. Althea . . 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ What ? ” She paused and turned toward him, linger- 
ing. 

Must you go up . . . yet ? ” 

“ I must . . . yes. . . . Pleasant dreams, Francis. . . 

Her voice wavered, almost broke. It was little more 
than a whisper. 

He strode after her and caught her about the waist. He 
was not smiling, but perfectly grave and intent. In the 
house was that thick, heavy silence that seems to fall only 
when two people are in love and alone. Althea stood 
motionless, as though his touch had turned her to lead. 
Both arms hung at her sides, her eyelids closed, and over 
her face came a look of ecstasy and of pain; of tragedy, 
almost, as though destiny had overtaken and caught her 
against her will. Francis held her silently, looking into 
her face with a kind of passionate curiosity. A moment 
had come that they had both known would come and that 
one of them had hastened intentionally, unable to bear the 
strain of waiting any longer, and yet both felt at that 
instant that they were moved by some power outside them- 
selves. He bent his head, slowly, and kissed her neck, 
under her hair, and she shivered. Then he raised his head 
again, with that same deliberation, and kissed her mouth, 
and she was still as a dead bird. 

After an immeasurable, static interval, somewhere in the 
house a door opened, and she swayed out of his arms. 
She stood leaning against the bannisters, a lovely, drooping 
figure. Francis recovered himself first, and said briskly, 
tonelessly : 

“ Well, we’ll look for it in the morning. I don’t think 
it’s here.” 

She sighed and drew herself upright. 

‘‘ No. I don’t think it is. Thank you for helping me 
look. Good-night.” 

He took her hands and kissed them. 

“ Good-night.” Then he whispered, “ You lovely 
thing.” 

She went up and along the hall to her room, wondering 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

at her ability to walk at all. She felt like a drunken woman. 
She let the bracelet lie where she had left it, a silent witness 
to the genuineness of her loss. If Francis should think that 
she had gone down in the hope or expectation of being 
kissed , . . ! But he would know better. It had simply 
happened . . . and oh ! how exquisitely it had happened. 
She moved about her room doing aimless, half-conscious 
things. 

Oh, Francis, Francis ! Where are we going to, my 
darling, my darling? What’s going to happen to us? 
How lovely it was ! ” 

She was exultant, but a little fearful. She had worked 
for this, she had longed for it, and now she was beginning 
to be alarmed at the lengths to which they had gone, and — 
the most unaccounted-for part of the whole matter — the 
strength of her own emotions. She had wanted Francis to 
like her, love her, but she hadn’t thought so much about 
the part she would play. And now she realized how entirely 
she had left this out of her calculations. She went to the 
window, and saw that a small moon was cradling its image 
in the fountain. A nightingale was singing, and the air was 
soft and inviting. With a little apprehensive shiver she 
closed the window and drew the curtains. As she un- 
dressed, more mistress, now, of her actions, she could hear 
Francis moving about in the next room. Oh, what was he 
thinking ? What pictures of her and of that moment by 
the stairs were passing through his brain ? Between the 
minds of human beings was a wall, she now perceived, 
thicker than the wall between her room and his. She 
didn’t know, she might never know, what was in his mind. 
It was suddenly borne in upon her that she might be going 
to suffer, and tears came to her eyes. 

But she had a way of viewing herself and reviewing her 
life that rarely failed to give her confidence and comfort, and 
she now made use of it. 

“ How extraordinary it all is,” she thought* “ Here am 
I, nobody in particular, and coming to Europe without a 
single friend, and now Fm staying in this adorable villa 

J24 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

with Mary Monash, a woman everybody admires and wants 
to know, and the Honourable Francis Mortlake, one Of the 
most attractive and desirable men in all England, probably 
the most eligible, and the only son of Lord Beauvais. And 
Francis is in love with me. Yes, in love, in love. And he’s 
thinking about me at this instant in that next room. And 
if I’m clever, if I keep my wits about me, he’ll be devoted 
to me for a long time, years perhaps. Any woman would 
envy me. And I suppose most women would lose their 
heads and want more. But I only want him for a friend, 
a devoted friend. Of course, if things were different, if I 
were different . . . but I’m not going to think about that 
at all. I shall have difficulties with George, who won’t 
understand, of course. Well, he’ll have to understand. 
I don’t want anything but a devoted friend who’ll think of 
me first and help me in everything. I don’t want a lover. 
Can’t you understand, George ? ” 

No, George probably couldn’t understand. 

“ He’ll come to it gradually,” she thought, ” if I’m 
patient and don’t quarrel with him, and don’t give in to 
him. Oh, if only I’d met Francis six years ago ! But 
there’s no use wishing that now. He might not have cared 
for me six years ago, anyway. Marrying and having a 
child changes and improves a woman so. I’m far more 
attractive now than I was then. But what mightn’t I have 
been if Fd married Francis ? How difficult life is ! 
Nothing ever seems to come at the right time, or in the 
right way. But I oughtn’t to complain, I suppose. I’ve 
got this . . . and he loves me, he loves me ! I thought 
when he came and caught me at the foot of the stairs my 
heart would burst inside my body. I knew what would 
happen if I went downstairs. We couldn’t help ourselves. 
I don’t care. I wanted it to happen. I’ve had what I’ve 

had, and it was wonderful and lovely Oh, Francis, 

how lovely ! And it will never, never happen again. 
Only, what will it be like when we meet to-morrow . . . 
and the next day, and the next ? ” 


125 



CHAPTER X 


When George received Althea’s letter saying that if he 
didn’t mind they would stay in Florence another two weeks, 
he believed that all his fears and premonitions were proving 
true. As he looked back, he could remember exactly what 
he had felt that night before they left New York, and the 
sense of disaster, like a far-away rumble of guns, and the 
dread thoughts of separation that had so unaccountably 
troubled him then. 

‘‘ A man ought to follow his intuitions in these things,” 
he said to himself. ” I had a genuine premonition, and I 
ignored it. I was so damned weak, I just gave in to her like 
I always do. So I can blame myself for all this, not her.” 

He almost wished Cleve would show symptoms of a 
cough or cold so that he could wire her to come home, but 
the boy was never better, and seemed quite untroubled by 
his mother’s absence. The little grey dog, the park, the 
garden, his nurse, and the small daughter of an acquaintance 
of his mother’s whom he met almost daily by the Round 
Pond, filled his life, his regular, simple life, and he was placid 
and sweet-tempered. 

Two more weeks of Francis and of Florence. More than 
one hundred and sixty-eight waking hours, George said to 
himself, during every minute of which his peace of mind 
and his happiness were threatened. He thought Grieves 
looked at him too understandingly when he said, at 
breakfast : 

“ Mrs. Goodall is staying in Italy a little longer, Grieves. 
She expects to be home two weeks from next Tuesday.” 

“ Yes, sir. Quite a number of people have telephoned 
to ask when madam would be back, and I said Tuesday. 
Shall I ring them up and tell them she’ll be away another 
fortnight ? ” 

“ Oh, no, I guess you needn’t bother to do that. Tell 

126 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

them if they ring up again, that’s all. I won’t be in to 
dinner to-night, 1 don’t much care about dining here 
alone.” 

“ No, sir.” 

He telephoned to Mrs. Allgood from the City an hour 
later, and said he’d like to come around after dinner if 
she was going to be in. 

But why after dinner ? ” she asked. “ Come to dinner, 
of course.” 

“ No, I guess ril just dine by myself somewhere and 
come around afterwards for a while.” 

“ I guess you’ll do nothing of the sort, my dear George. 
Why should I have to dine alone ? I’ll expect you at 
eight. Don’t dress if you’d rather not.” 

“ Oh, yes. I’ll dress. But say, Kate, don’t ask anyone 
else, will you ? I want to talk to you, if you don’t mind.” 

When he came that evening she saw at once from his 
eyes, which looked restless and feverish, that something 
had happened to cause him acute distress and disquiet. 
She guessed what it was, but didn’t allude to it. Instead 
she amused him with trifles, knowing that he would prefer 
to await his own time. She had had a visitor that afternoon, 
an old Frenchman who had acted with her in the old days. 
He had never had anything but small, unimportant parts, 
was incredibly poor, and now his mind had become a little 
unbalanced. She was very sorry for him. 

” He was like a child,” she said, “ even in those days. 
He always said exactly what he thought, and we were all 
fond of him. He was small and very thin, and old age has 
made him smaller. He was a great connoisseur of women’s 
clothes, and we used to consult him if we were in doubt 
about what to wear. That was his great hobby and interest, 
and now, poor old thing, it has become a mania. He’s one 
of those borderland cases that are so difficult to deal with, 
but fortunately he’s so harmless there’s really no need to 
deal with him at all. His mania is speaking to women he 
doesn’t know in public places about their clothes. Nobody 
really minds. He looks at them purely from the aesthetic 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

and fashionable point of view. He went up to a woman I 
know at a picture gallery recently and said, ‘ I think, 
Madame, if you will pardon my saying so, that black shoes 
would have looked better with that costume than grey. 
Otherwise I find all the details of your toilette quite perfect. 
Mes compliments ! ’ And another time he was overheard 
saying to a woman at a charity bazaar, ‘ Madame, as a 
humble admirer of your sex and of yourself, I implore 
you not to wear purple. Permit me to advise you to give 
that dress to your maid. You should wear brown, beige, 
black, flesh pink, or dark red. Purple, never. But your 
shoes, gloves, and hat I find faultless.’ He’s invariably 
right, too. He lives on some sort of pension in a room off 
the Tottenham Court Road.” 

Later she spoke regretfully about the weather, which, 
though mild, had been consistently cloudy. 

“ After a succession of dull days in the spring,” she said, 
“ one feels as if one had been sitting interminably in a 
theatre waiting for the curtain to go up on a much-talked-of 
play.” 

” They’re having wonderful weather in Florence,” George 
said. 

” Oh, I’m glad of that. It makes all the difference 
there. What a delightful time they must be having ! ” ■ 

” Fine, from all accounts,” he answered shortly. 

” They’re staying longer than they said they would,” she 
thought. ” Fm sure of it. Poor George.” She said 
aloud : 

“ Two weeks is a ridiculously short time to spend there. 

I don’t see how they can contrive to see half the things they 
ought to see.” 

‘‘ There’s as much to see as all that, is there ? ” he asked. 

“ Oh, there’s more. It’s quite endless. I could spend 
two weeks very happily in the Ufizzi Gallery alone.” 

“ Could you ? Well, as a matter of fact, they’re staying 
on another two weeks. I heard to-day.” 

” I rather thought they would,” she said. “ One doesn’t 
get to Florence every day.” 


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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

George chose to change the subject here, and he changed 
it laboriously. 

“ Well, tell me what else you’ve been doing, Kate. What 
did you do yesterday ? ” 

“ Yesterday, George, I went to a wedding, a thing I hate, 
but it was a nephew of my husband’s, and I’d promised. 
All the time I was watching it, I was thinking, ‘ What on 
earth’s the good of tying those two people up so elaborately 
and fussily, and with so much holiness, when anyone can 
see they’ll want to be untied in about a year.” 

‘‘Will they? Why?” 

“ Oh, it’s a most ridiculous marriage ! He’s quite a 
charming young man with some very nice qualities, and 
he’s been caught — it’s painfully obvious — ^by an adven- 
turess : the sort of young woman who counts on a certain 
showy and vulgar sex attraction to get her what she wants. 
His family did what they could to stop it — which wasn’t 
much — because it was so clearly a case of infatuation. She 
looks like a second-rate film vampire, and she’ll bore him 
crazy as soon as he comes to his senses — or is released 
from them — ^for he’s an intelligent fellow. I always think 
that for a man to take a woman to wife simply because she 
attracts him physically, is like keeping an elephant because 
it can pick up pins with its trunk.” 

This amused George, and his face cleared and brightened, 
and she saw that he was coming out of the gloom that had 
enveloped him. But the moment they were alone in the 
drawing-room, all the good she had done him was undone 
by a sudden access of acute anxiety. It was caused, 
strangely enough, by the very fact of the pleasure he took 
in her talk and in her company. If he felt all that for a 
woman of fifty, he, George, whose whole life was bound up 
in Althea for as long as they both should live, what might 
not Althea^ in Florence, be feeling for Francis, who was 
young, in every way attractive, and, George was convinced, 
in love with her? What he felt safely and sanely and 
harmlessly for Mrs. Allgood, Althea must be feeling wildly 
and dangerously and critically for Francis. If he, who 
E 129 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST ' 

utterly adored his wife, was thus drawn to another woman, 
what must be happening to Althea, who was merely fond 
of him ? 

When they were seated in armchairs on either side of 
the fire, Mrs. Allgood with the coifee-tray beside her, he 
suddenly burst out : 

“ Fm afraid Fm going to be a terrible bore to-night, 
Kate, but Fm going to tell you my troubles. Fve got to. 
Fm worried crazy about Althea. Fm pretty near out of my 
mind with worry. And I’ve got another awful fourteen 
days of it in front of me. I believe she’s fallen in love with 
Francis Mortlake. God, it’s awful ! What am I going to 
do ? I don’t believe she cares a damn for me any more, 
and wants to get rid of me. Or, if she doesn’t actually want 
to yet, she will want to. I feel like going and jumping into 
the Thames.” 

My dear George,” exclaimed Mrs. Allgood, startled, 
” be calm, be calm. It strikes me you’re talking with a 
good deal more claret than clarity. I don’t believe a word 
of all this. Not a word. What reason have you for think- 
ing it ? Is it simply because they’ve decided to stay another 
fortnight ? That seems to me the most natural thing in 
the world, as I told you at dinner.” 

He leaned forward and picking up the poker, plunged it 
into the fire. No man could have sat still and said what he 
was saying, and she knew he couldn’t look at her till he 
had finished saying it. 

“Yes; no. Oh, no, it started before. I expected it. 
The whole trip was kind of fixed up, I guess. Or it looked 
like that to me. I’ll tell you the whole story. I’ll tell you 
everything if you’ll listen, Kate. It started out in Biarritz 
last summer. ...” 

Mrs. Allgood listened attentively, and her brain was 
working all the time. Was he right, or wasn’t he ? As he 
talked she saw little pictures of Althea and Francis together. 
She saw them bathing at Biarritz, two very attractive figures, 
walking out of the sea. She saw them dancing in London, 
she saw them walking off side by side — as indeed she had 

130 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

seen them — at Whittleworth Park. She saw them at 
Fiesole at sunset, looking down on Florence, she saw them 
strolling between high walls along some lane bordered by 
tapering cypress trees, she saw them moving from picture 
to picture in the galleries. And all the while she tried to 
see them, at George's suggestion, as people who were in 
love. Her mind pulled wires, but her imagination, perhaps 
because it wasn’t a jealous one, failed where it should have 
been vivid and inventive. That cold, bright, self-sufficient 
little woman in love ? She couldn’t picture it. 

“ It’s no good,” she said, when he had finished. “ I 
simply can’t see those two in the role of lovers. There’s 
something lacking. Of course I don’t know much about 
Althea’s temperament, but . . . no, I can’t see them as 
you do. I’ll admit that the most discerning eye can be 
deceived at times, but I must say, it never entered my head 
at Whittleworth. And bear in mind that Francis has met 
most of the seductive ladies in London and Paris, as well 
as those who come to London and Paris from your country. 
He’s been shamelessly run after — though 1 can understand 
that — and so far as I know he’s never been mixed up in a 
scandal of any sort. And that, my dear, argues great dis- 
cretion, He’s responsive, and on the surface very much of 
a gallant, but there are undercurrents in Francis that I 
doubt if your wife, or the other women he makes himself 
pleasant to, know anything about.” 

She paused, as though to sum up her thoughts, and went 
on: 

‘‘ Now, quite dispassionately and without bias, I can tell 
you I don’t believe he’s in love with your wife. No, I don’t 
believe it. As for what she feels for him . . . well, she’s 
attracted, no doubt. He’s so much the sort of man — I’m 
thinking now of his position and name and everything — 
that every woman thinks she deserves. And he’s a feather ' 
in her cap, of course. I mean, to be admired by Francis 
and seen about with him adds something to a woman’s 
opinion of herself. But, my dearest George, as for wanting 
to be rid of you, it’s sheer nonsense — the wild imaginings of 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

a loving and jealous man. There’s not a word of truth in it. 
Quite apart from you, what about the boy ? Do you sup- 
pose she’d give him up ? It’s perfectly absurd.” 

He answered with something like a groan : 

“ She knows darn well that if anything happened I’d 
give him up.” 

She sat upright in her chair, staring at him. 

“ George, are there no limits to your folly ? Do you 
seriopsly mean that if Althea preferred Francis Mortlake 
and asked you to release her, you’d give up your son ? ” 

“ I certainly would,” he said. 

She beat the arm of her chair with her fist. 

“ Idiot ! Idiot ! Oh, George, for pity’s sake, stop this 
maudlin quixotism ! It sickens me. That is the sort of 
thing women take advantage of. That is the sort of thing 
they secretly resent and distrust. Men who are willing to 
do such things are the men women leave. Why should you 
be ready to give up your son ? Why, why ? 

“ Well, ril tell you,” said George, unmoved by her 
indignation. “ I’d be ready because, as long as a woman 
isn’t out-and-out bad, I think she always ought to keep her 
children. It’s because I think men have darned little to do 
with bringing them into the world, and that little is done 
selfishly. It’s because women have to suffer months and 
months of inconvenience and of looking awful, and because 
they take all the risks and have all the pain. It’s because, 
even when the worst is over, it’s still the women who have 
all the petty worries and the anxieties, and are tied to the 
house when the children are ill, and kept awake at night when 
things go wrong. In the old days, the father had all the 
rights. Nowadays most people seem to think it ought to 
be fifty fifty. But I’m darned if I can see it like that. It 
seems to me that a child’s nine-tenths its mother’s, and one- 
tenfh its father’s— while it’s too little to choose for itself, 

' anyway. I always have thought like that and I always will.” . 

As she was about to speak he hurried on : 

. “ It’s all women I’m talking about, not any particular 
one. But my case is the same as anyone else’s, FU fight 

132 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

to keep Althea, I won’t give her up till I . . . well, till I’m 
pretty certain she doesn’t want to stay. But if she makes 
up her mind once and for all that she wants to go, Cleve goes 
with her. He goes if it kills me.” 

“ My dear foolish George,” she said soothingly, “ you’re 
working yourself up for nothing. At the end of two weeks 
you’ll have Althea back entirely unchanged, and glad to be 
home. Women aren’t quite the opportunists you seem to 
think they are. Althea has too much at stake. Besides, 
she’s very fond of you. She looks to me, and I’m sure she 
is, a satisfied and happy woman. I mean, as far as one can 
be satisfied nowadays, with restlessness and chaos as con- 
tagious as influenza.” 

“ She hasn’t looked happy this last six months.” 

“ Your fevered imagination again, I suspect. This 
little harmless fling means nothing. Has she ever shown 
any marked partiality for anyone before ? ” 

” No, never.” 

“ Oh, well then, good heavens, it’s time she did. A 
woman who never looks at any man but her husband is in 
grave danger of not being looked at by any man at all. 
My dear, this is a slight kicking up of heels. All this pother 
is for nothing. And you’d already divorced Althea in your 
mind, and almost died of it. Or, I suppose you’d allow her 
to divorce you ? ” 

” Yes, I would.” 

“ Well, refrain from telling her so. It’s asking for 
trouble.”. 

“ Oh, she knows it all right. We’ve talked about other 
people’s divorces often enough. She knows what I think 
a man’s got to do.” 

” Nothing would infuriate me more,” said Mrs. Allgood, 
and her handsome eyes flashed, “ if I thought of breaking up 
my marriage, than such an attitude on the part of my 
husband. I should insist on his divorcing me. I should 
want to shoulder the responsibility. I should want to be 
divorced. As long as women shrink from the results of the 
very freedom they long for, it’s absurd for. them to ask for 

133 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

political equality or any other sort of equality. It’s 
cowardly and silly. This wanting it both ways makes me 
very tired.” 

“ Well, that may be,” said George, “ but that’s how it 
would be done if I had anything to do with it. If Althea 
left me there isn’t a darn thing that Fd want to keep. She 
could have the divorce, she could have the boy, she could 
have all the money she wants, she could have every stick 
of furniture we’ve bought together, and I’d cut loose and 
go to Mexico, or East Africa, or somewhere, anywhere.” 
His face looked haggard and stricken, and his eyes appre- 
hensive. ” And if she takes it into her head to like him 
better than she does me, what can I do or say that’s going 
to stop her ? How can I prevent it ? Oh, Kate, it’s driving 
me crazy. I can see them together the whole time, talking 
and looking at each other. It’s no good your saying that 
because it’s the first time it doesn’t mean anything. I look 
at it just the other way. She’s never bothered about any 
other man before, and that makes it about a million times 
worse.” 

“ George, George,” she broke in, “ stop talking for a 
minute and let me have a word. I think all this is nonsense. 
I think it’s the most natural thing in the world that those 
three should want to stay longer in Florence. The pity is 
that you’re not there too. Why didn’t you go ? Couldn’t 
you have gone ? ” 

“ Oh, well, you know how it is. I could have gone, but 
there was plenty to do here, and . . . damn it all, how 
much ought a man to give in to his wife, anyhow ? My 
sales manager hadn’t been with me so long I felt I could 
suddenly shove all the responsibility on him and leave. 
And I was planning to go abroad in the summer. I didn’t 
feel justified' in taking two holidays so close together. 
And after that row I had with Althea, I thought it would 
look as though I were just going to keep an eye on her. 
I couldn’t do it.” 

“ Go now,” she suggested. 

He shook his head. 


134 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ She’ll think it’s becaues I don’t trust her.” 

‘‘ Well, but you don’t. You’ve made that quite clear. 
If you did, you wouldn’t be going through this little hell of 
jealousy. Anyway, trust is a silly word, and meaningless. 
You can’t trust any woman not to fall in love, or man 
either. But 1 don’t believe Althea has fallen in love, nor 
do I believe Francis has. And there’s Mary Monash. 
She’s a sensible woman. If she’d seen any inclination on 
Althea’s part to lose her head, she wouldn’t have en- 
couraged her to stay another fortnight.” 

“ That’s the most reassuring thing you’ve said yet,” 
George told her. “ I hadn’t thought of that. Only Mary 
is so wrapped up in her own thoughts and her own affairs 
a lot of the time, she might not notice.” 

“ Well,” said Mrs. Allgood, summing up, “ you must do 
one of two things. Either go to Florence — it’s quite open 
to you to change your mind, especially now that they’ve 
changed theirs and are staying longer — and see for yourself 
what the situation is, or stay here and stop worrying. 
Otherwise you’ve got a ghastly time ahead of you, and your 
nerves will be on edge when she does get back. I advise 
Florence.” 

“ I don’t think Fm wanted there.” 

“ On the contrary, they’d welcome you. Three’s a bad 
number.” 

“ I can’t do it, Kate. The spectacle of a man going 
round chaperoning his own wife seems to me pretty cheap. 
Gosh ! I suppose hundreds of men have gone through this, 
poor devils ! ” He got up. “ Kate, I’ve bored you 
enough. Fm going home.” 

“ No, George dear, don’t go yet. Have a drink. I wish 
I could say something to you that would clear your mind of 
worry and suspicion, but I’ve said all I can. What are 
Althea’s letters like ? No, nothing for me, thanks.” 

George poured himself out a drink and came back to the 
fire. 

“ She describes the scenery a good deal, and says she’s 
crazy about the Continent, and then she ends up with, ‘ I 

135 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

must hurry up and finish this. The car’s waiting. Love to 
you and Cleve. In haste, Althea.’ ” 

Mrs. Allgood laughed. 

“ You’ve got it by heart. George, what a dear you 
are ! ” She got up and stood beside him. “ You poor 
soul. I’m so fond of you. Fd do anything to help you. 
What can I do ? ” 

He put his glass on the mantel and turned toward her. 

“ I’m hanged if I know, any more than you are doing. 
And that is, making life bearable just now. I don’t know 
what I’d do without you.” 

He looked a,ffectionately into that pleasing and lively 
face. Like most women who have appeared much in 
public, she stood and moved beautifully. She was a re- 
markable woman, and she really was fond of him, he 
believed. Never before had he had a friendship of this 
sort. She returned his look frankly, and there was a sort of 
wonder, of speculation in her eyes. 

“ It’s curious, this affection I have for you. A good deal 
of it’s motherly, of course. And I hate seeing you so dis- 
tressed. Promise me you won’t worry any more.” 

“ It’s easy to say stop worrying,” he answered. “ I 
wake up in the night and lie awake for hours thinking about 
it. I felt the sweat break out aU over me last night when I 
woke up because I saw there was a moon. And she says 
there are nightingales.” 

Mrs. Allgood laughed. 

“ You’d think Francis was a sentimental undergraduate. 
He’s seen moons before, my dear, and heard nightin- 
gales.” 

“ Not with her.” 

“ George, go to bed. I give you up. I haven’t done you 
an atom of good. People with fixed ideas rejoice in them, 
I believe. Go to bed.” 

“ All right. But I do feel better, honestly. Come out 
somewhere with me to-morrow night.” 

“ Yes, I think I will. Let’s not bother to decide where 
to-night. Call for me at eight.” 

136 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Good-night, Kate, you aagel,” he said. “ You’re so 
darned good to me. ...” 

“ Good-night, child. Read some more of the Dialogues 
before you go to sleep. They’ll take your mind oflf any 
woman.” 

Moved by gratitude and affection, he leaned toward her 
and kissed her cheek. Instantly she encircled his head with 
her arm and drew his face closer against hers. Then, 
turning her head slightly, she kissed his hair, at the temples, 
and released him. Such was the kindness they felt for one 
another. 

When he had gone she continued to stand by the fire, 
looking down into it and thinking. It was strange how he 
had come into her life, strange, strange. She had never for 
one moment lost her interest in men — such women never do, 
and it is half their charm — but she was surprised at the 
depth and warmth of her feeling for im. She wanted to 
guard his head from blows, he seemed so curiously vulner- 
able and unprotected. He loved Althea so wholly, so 
unquestioningly. His little world was so restricted, and 
occupied him so completely. His wife, his child, his 
business; his business, his wife, his child. That was all 
there was. No criticism, no doubt of Althea as the one 
woman for him, or as a complete and perfect and finished 
personality, had ever entered his head. Happy is the non- 
introspective and uncritical mind, she thought, until 
disaster falls. Then it is like a small, lost child, deserted 
and left to the wolves. 

And it seemed to her that George’s situation was becom- 
ing intensely pathetic. He had been uprooted by Althea 
and brought to a country of which he knew little and for 
which he had cared less. And to please her he had adapted 
himself to it, slowly, painstakingly. So far as he could he 
had learnt its language and adopted its ways. And all this 
without a murmur. And now she wasn’t satisfied. She 
had discovered yet other joys, other goals. She had dis- 
covered that the Continent was both a school and a play- 
groimd Of the most agreeable nature; she had discovered the 

137 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

delights of contact with minds more swift and sophisticated 
than his. For however much Mrs. Allgood pretended she 
thought all was well, she really had the gravest doubts. 
She herself had always been attracted to Francis, and he was 
not a novel type to her. She had known, in her long 
experience, other men who in this way or that resembled 
him. She had been to Hawfield, she knew his mother ; she 
had no illusions as to the joys — in themselves and without 
relation to other things — of position, place, title. She 
wouldn’t have been in Lady Beauvais’ place for anything. 
Nor, if she had had a son, would she have wished him in 
Francis’. But it was impossible to ignore the mental and 
physical attractions of Francis as a man. And she saw in 
Althea’s volatility, adaptability, and only partially concealed 
ambition — but particularly in her ambition — very grave 
enemies to George’s happiness. And because she was a 
woman who limited herself to a few friends, and those few 
very real and near to her, she began to be acutely interested 
in his happiness. 

George . . . what a charming, simple, lovable soul. 
Too simple, of course, his simplicity almost irritated at 
times. She was the first person who had ever encouraged 
him to think for himself and to acquaint himself with the 
thoughts of minds superior to his own. She wished she 
could direct his education for a year or two. She would 
like to tease that mind of his into activity, to irritate, per- 
plex and excite it. It was a good mind, but it hadn’t enough 
to work on. 

“ I’ve got two weeks more,” she thought, “ to do what I 
can. I’ve done something already. He questions things 
now he never thought of questioning before. Perhaps he 
won’t thank me for that.” She played with this thought 
for a moment, then put it aside. “ Of course he will. If to 
extend one’s personality, to extend thought, feeling, under- 
standing, imagination, wherever possible, is the duty of each 
and every one of us, as I believe it is, then I’m doing some- 
thing for that dear George. How spontaneously and 
charmingly he kissed me ! This tenderness I feel for him is 

138 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

almost cause for alarm. Ten years ago it would have been. 
That attractive, self-sufficient, hard little wife of his hasn’t 
half his charm, half his niceness. And yet the majority of 
people are completely captivated by her. At Whitlleworth 
Park, for instance, ‘ What a fascinating creature Mrs. 
^Goodall is ! ’ people said. ‘ How beautifully she dresses ! 
What lovely feet ! What a lovely figure ! What a pity he’s 
so dull and quiet ! American women are wonderful, but 
the men are hopeless outside their offices.’ ” 

These light and superficial opinions annoyed her. She 
had been George’s champion since that first night at dinner. 
She would continue to be his champion should a domestic 
crisis arise, and, in spite of her reassuring words, she feared 
that it might. 


139 



CHAPTER XI 


Francis had a contempt for cocktails, a contempt that was ^ 
shared by neither Althea nor Mary. When they went to 
Doney’s in the Via Tornabuoni before lunch — as they 
managed to do nearly every day — he drank a glass of old 
brown sherry while they had a Martini apiece. Althea 
sometimes had two, and they made her eyes sparkle, and 
sent the colour into the clear, pale brown of her cheeks, and 
made her forget her AngUcisms and speak freely and slang- 
ily, which Francis preferred. A cocktail had precisely the 
opposite effect on Mary. It made her eyelids a little heavy, 
and gave her face a serene, calm look, as though she were at 
peace with the world. 

They sat at a little table in the corner and watched the 
smart, noisy crowd that pushed for places and snatched at 
chairs, and laughed and chattered and gossiped, in accents 
that were curiously mixed. There were pretty Anjerican 
girls there, day after day, with some sleek, handsome young 
Marchese or other — for of these Florence seemed to have ^ 
generous supply. There were young Fascist officers with 
neat, snug waists and rakish little caps; there were thin 
English ladies who spent their days doing water-colour 
sketches of the facades of churches and of the cemetery at 
San Miniato; there were some of the most niondaine 
women in London society, with here and there a well-known 
peer, or a famous author ; and there were always the Italian, 
English, and American collectors and art connoisseurs, 
buying or selling, or both. 

One day they saw Mrs. Tilling come in, with some other 
people. She was hardly seated before she saw them, and 
advanced to their table with every symptom of delight and 
satisfaction. She shook hands with all of them, and was 
particularly glad to see Francis, who had always been un- 
able — ^most unfortunately — to come to her parties. She 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

was wearing a magnificent sable coat, and under it one of 
those simple little silk dresses it takes the genius of Paris to 
produce. Her hat would have suited a girl of sixteen, but 
she wore it with confidence and spirit. She told them, 
while Francis stood with a watchful and speculative eye 
upon her, that she was staying with Lady Shackles for a 
month, and they must all come and lunch one day. She 
wanted them to see the villa and the garden ; there was only 
one other garden to compare with it in Italy, and that was 
near Rome. 

“ I’m afraid we’re too busy sightseeing to be social,” said 
Mary. She knew better than to let Francis in for anything 
of the sort. 

“ Oh, but surely you must eat lunch somewhere,” j)er- 
sisted Mrs. Tilling, ‘‘ so why not at the villa ? ” 

“ The fact is, we’re planning to go to Perugia,” Francis 
said, coming to Mary’s assistance. “ And that will take 
two or three days if we stop at Assisi and Arezzo and 
Orvieto, as we hope to do.” 

“ Yes, we’re sorry to be so vague,” Mary resumed, “ but 
as we may go any day now, it would be foolish to make 
engagements. I think we’d better not try.” 

“ Well, come to Raiola’s one night before you go or after 
you get back, and we’ll have a party. There are such de- 
lightful people in Florence, and Lady Shackles knows 
everybody. Have you met the Bartolozzis and the Casa- 
blancas ? They’re so charming.” 

“ How gay that sounds 1 ” Mary said. “ As a rule we’re so 
tired at night we simply fall into bed. But if I see a chance, 
as soon as we know what our plans are I’ll ring you up.” 

“ I’m sure you’d like Raiola’s,” said Mrs. Tilling, turning 
to Althea. “ And some of the young men here dance quite 
wonderfully. Do try to come.” 

She returned to Lady Shackles, and Francis said, with a 
stem eye on Althea: 

“ If you let us in for any party of that sort, you’ll have 
your dear little neck wrung. I don’t see mysetf doing the 
.Charleston with Mrs. Tilling.” 

141 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Goodness me, I don’t want to go,” Althea protested, 
but she was secretly very much disappointed. She wanted 
both to meet Lady Shackles and see the villa, and go to 
Raiola’s to dance. She would like to have met some of 
those good-looking young Florentines. Still, it was 
gratifying to be identified with people who refused invita- 
tions from people like Lady Shackles and Mrs. Tilling. 
The latter wouldn’t have noticed her, she knew, if she 
hadn’t been with Mary and Francis, for she had gauged her 
social position in New York very accurately by means of a 
few searching questions while they were at Whittleworth, 
Perhaps it was on the whole more satisfactory to be refusing 
invitations from her than accepting them. But she was 
surprised at the unwillingness of Francis and Mary to know 
her, when she was clearly such an intimate friend of Lady 
Shackles, who was, after all, quite a figure in London 
society. For Althea had yet to learn that in English social 
geometry things that are equal to the same thing are not 
necessarily equal to one another, and that there are still to 
be found, here and there, people who consider a bore a 
bore and a poseur a poseur^ quite regardless of their 
connections. 

George’s wire in answer to her letter telling him of their 
prolonged stay, read, “ All right, enjoy yourself, all well 
here.” This completely reassured her, and she hardly 
thought about him except when she wrote, which she did 
almost automatically, both to him and the nurse, and re- 
ceived from the latter two letters a week reporting on Cleve’s 
health and progress. 

Between Francis and herself there had been no amorous 
passages since that night when he had kissed her, and 
although he had not avoided opportunities of being alone 
with her, he had certainly not sought them. That Francis 
was seriously in love with her she did not doubt at all, and 
she understood that he would try to refrain from further 
demonstrations, from further steps of any sort, until she 
gave some sign of wishing it. He liked George. He had 
told her so many times. Moreover he knew perfectly well 

142 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

her own views about infidelity and lovers. She might 
possibly consider leaving her husband for good — though, of 
course, she had not yet considered it — but she was not the 
sort of woman to be unfaithful to him, and Francis knew 
this. The idea prevailing in France and, she supposed, in 
Italy, that the home must be kept together at all costs — let 
what might take place out of sight and in the dark — she 
thought cynical and horrible. She was American, and she 
insisted on the right to legalize her impulses. Easy divorce 
existed for that purpose. Restlessness, the desire for erotic 
adventure, the longing for self-expression, find an outlet in 
Paris in the obscure appartement in some unfashionable 
thoroughfare, or in the cabinet particulier, while in New 
York, and to a certain extent in London, they readily find it 
in the divorce court and the registry oflfice. 

Many of her friends, and George’s, had taken this route to 
happiness or fresh adventure, but neither of them had so 
much as considered the possibility of taking it themselves. 
Nor did Althea seriously think of it now. Not even when 
she was envying Francis his superb indifference to the 
socially great, as when she found he knew the Bartolozzis 
and the Casablancas and Lady Shackles, and didn’t particu- 
larly wish to see any of them. What an exquisite and 
desirable and god-like aloofness ! He called, alone, on the 
old Marchesa Bartolozzi, who was very old indeed and 
almost more royal than royalty, and gave her messages 
from his father, and he went to see a well-known collector 
or two, but he made no other excursions into Florentine 
society, nor would he. Oh, lovely and enviable superiority ! 
And it was with this man that she talked and walked and 
laughed daily, intimately. And George wrote : 

“ I’ve been waiting for weeks now for a fresh consign- 
ment of revolving chairs, and I heard yesterday that they’d 
only just left the factory. They’re sold already, and I could 
handle about five hundred more. It looks to me as though 
we’d have to put up a factory over here. This European 
business is a whole lot bigger than I thought. I’m writing to 
New York about it. We’ve hardly touched the Continent 

143 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

yet. I was talking to a buyer from Brussels yesterday, and 
he said . . 

Revolving chairs . . . buyers from Brussels . . . ! All 
this tended to reduce and diminish her idea of George and of 
her life with him, and to enhance the distinguished and 
spacious existence led by Francis. And a sort of fever 
entered into her blood, and an impatience with the restric- 
tions and the mediocrity of her circumstances. Why did 
such brilliant possibilities dawn on her horizon if they 
meant nothing, if they were not meant to shed some light 
upon her path ? She came from an environment wherein 
change, progress, improvement, were the natural order of 
things, a kind of law of nature, and it was impossible to 
refrain altogether from applying this law to matters per- 
sonal and domestic. The idea of betterment had become a 
new religion. 

This very , eagerness of hers, this love of movement, this 
desire to be up and doing was what Mary most liked in her. 
She herself was aflJicted with the terrible lassitude that often 
comes with disillusion. She lacked what Althea had, the 
capacity for surprise and wonder, but in her company she 
was sometimes able to recapture it. Althea made her want 
to do things she would not otherwise have thought worth 
the trouble of doing. Alone in Florence she would have 
sat quietly on the terrace in the sun, reading, and she would 
have confined her sightseeing to the art galleries and the 
churches she liked best, Santa Croce, Santa Maria Novella 
and San Marco. In London she made a great effort, and 
went to parties and gave them, while if she had followed her 
natural inclinations she would have confined her activities to 
concert-going and charitable work under the direction of 
her Church. She was a curious combination of spirituality 
and sophistication, and it was the sophisticated side of her 
that was attracted and amused by Althea, and she and 
Francis, when they were alone together, freely discussed and 
examined that vitality and charm of hers which so readily 
drew people to her. 

Francis said that in Florence, except at Doney’s, she was a 

144 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

complete anachronism. With her intense modernity, she 
seemed to him, as he watched her on their sightseeing 
expeditions, to be regarding not so much the past of her own 
civilization, the civilization that had evolved her, as some 
other, entirely alien and long dead. What a gap there was, 
after all, he thought, between America and Europe ! 
What a break in time ! Between the old Europe and the 
Europe of to-day there was continuity ; between the old 
Europe and America to-day, was there, he wondered, any 
continuity at all ? And was not the mental attitude of the 
average American toward old Europe very like the attitude 
of an Englishman toward ancient Greece? To these 
speculations he was led by her aloof, bright interest; the 
same bright interest she might have shown, he thought, for 
the temples of Egypt, and a very quick and intelligent 
interest it was. But it seemed entirely detached, as though 
she were discovering new friends instead of feeling, with 
psychic certainty, that she was renewing contact with old 
ones. 

But whatever she did, whatever she felt, she pleased and 
diverted him, for she was very feminine and very charming; 
and even when she was assuming — ^for this was an occasional 
weakness of hers — an erudition she did not possess, very 
human. 

Like most sensitive men, he was immediately aware of 
any response to his own attractions, and as these responses 
and reactions work on one another and gain strength from 
one another, he was conscious of danger. Such emotions 
as these in such surroundings, where the possessors of even 
the most sub-normal temperatures must be aware of a 
certain rise, were not to be taken too lightly. He regretted 
that kiss by the stairs, knowing that the first kiss is like the 
first swallow — the herald of a flock of others — and although 
he was not at all the sort of man who, when God sent a 
cheerful hour, refrained, he nevertheless perceived a need 
for caution. 

It was, indeed, in his mind, when a further two weeks’ 
stay was first proposed, to say that he must go back to 

145 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

London, or Hawfield, or anywhere, but he hated to curtail 
what was for Mary an unusually happy time, and he 
managed to convince himself that Althea, like many another 
light-hearted and pretty American wife he had been privi- 
leged to know, flashed and flickered brightly on these 
occasions, but like heat lightning, never struck. They were 
masters, he believed, of feux d^artifices, and a very gay 
display they made of them, and only a fool mistakes 
Catherine wheels for the armaments of war. 

One afternoon, when their month’s stay was nearly over, 
Mary went out to tea alone, leaving the other two in 
possession of the terrace. Francis was reading a book on 
Baroque art — a period he said he had much neglected — 
and Althea sat writing a letter to George. She was feeling 
intensely sorry for herself, for she was in love with one 
man and was trying to write a normal, wifely letter to 
another. 

‘‘ Dearest George, 

“ Here we are on the terrace in the sun, with birds 
singing and flowers blooming and the loveliest blue sky 
overhead you ever saw. According to the papers you’re 
having a cold month in London. That’s too bad, with 
May nearly here. What a pity you’re not with us in Italy I 

“ If you ask my advice about building a factory in Eng- 
land, I should say by all means go ahead and build it. 
I’ve often given you good advice before — about coming over 
here, for instance — and although this is something I don’t^ 
know much about, not being on the spot, I should think it 
was much the best thing to do.” (For would it not keep 
them longer abroad ?) “ And then you could put ‘ Made 
in England ’ on everything, I suppose, and you would be 
giving employment to a lot of British workmen. It seems 
to me a very good idea.” (Her spirits sank as she wrote 
these words. “ If I should ever do what I’ve begun to 
think of doing, what’s the good of persuading George to 
stay longer in England ? ” And then, for she was not a 
cynical woman, she gave a little shiver and felt slightly sick. 

146 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Thinking about George now affected her unpleasantly in 
the pit of the stomach. Poor old George ! He hadn’t 
done anything to deserve this. Well, neither had she, and 
heaven knew it wasn’t going to be pleasant for her. It was 
fate. She couldn’t help it. It was life. She wrote on.) 
“ But maybe you’d better not decide till I get back, which 
will be next Tuesday, and then we can talk it all over 
properly.” (Oh, these future talks !) “ I’m glad to hear 
Cleve’s getting on so well. Nurse says he can read quite a 
lot now, and he signed his name in great big capital letters 
at the end of her last letter to me. Well, this will have to 
be all for to-day. I’ll probably write once more before we 
leave here. 

“ Love to you and a kiss for Cleve, 

Althea.” 

It was a terrible thing to have married the wrong man, 
and that was what she had done. George had been the 
choice of her youth, he belonged to what, in speaking of 
artists, one called the first period. She had grown away 
from him, beyond him, and that was the truth in a nutshell. 
George would have made an absolutely ideal husband for 
some placid, mindless woman who would be content to take 
her ideas and opinions from him, and whose life would have 
been a dutiful blank from the time he left in the morning 
till he came back at night. 

She looked up at Francis and asked with a sigh ; 

” I wonder what’s kept you from marrying all these years, 
you wise creature ? ” 

Francis looked up from his book. 

” Husbands,” he answered, with that disregard for 
accuracy so characteristic of him. 

She laughed, but under his light answer she perceived the 
simple truth. She put the letter into its envelope and 
addressed it to one of the obstructions of whom Francis 
had spoken. 

” They’re not always immovable objects, are they ? ” she 
suggested, in the same spirit. 

147 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Ah, there you have my life’s tragedy in a few words. 
Willing wives have unwilling husbands. A new proverb 
for you.” He looked intently at her, so that she wondered, 
with a sort of fearful joy, what he would say next. “ Mary 
was remarking the other day on your Botticelli look. It’s 
very noticeable to-day. It’s the thick eyelids and high 
cheek-bones and clear, pale skin. Well, I must return to 
the Baroque and you to your letters.” 

“ I’ve finished. I’m not going to write any more. Talk 
to me, Francis. Talk to me, please. I’m feeling horribly 
depressed.” 

“ Are you ? Why ? Because all this is nearly over ? ” 

“ Yes. Isn’t that reason enough ? ” Tears came into her 
eyes. “ It’s been so wonderful ... I can’t bear it to end. 
... I can’t bear it.” 

‘‘ Althea, I believe you’re crying.” 

“ I can’t help it. Oh, Francis, I’ve been so happy ! I’ve 
just found out what real happiness is.” 

“ Have you ? My dear girl, what is it ? I wish you’d tell 
me.” 

He put down his book and went toward her, interested, 
troubled, startled by this phenomenon. Then suddenly 
she covered her face with her hands, and he saw the tears 
drop through her fingers. 

It’s being with you. Oh, why have I made such a 
stupid, silly muddle of my life ? ” 

He sat down on the edge of her wicker reclining chair 
and put an arm about her. She was crying in real earnest. 
Her words made little impression on him; he was thinking 
far more of her tears, which, like the tears of any woman, 
completely foundered the practical and the normal for him, 
and reduced him to an anxious and eager comforter, a 
comforter at any price. He brought out of his coat pocket 
a large, soft handkerchief, and pulling away her hands from 
her face he dried her tears gently and solicitously. 

“ Don’t cry, Althea, poor child, don’t. I never saw you 
cry before. You suddenly brimmed over like a vase. 
Don’t cry.” 


148 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ How sweet you are to me, Francis ! Fll stop in a 
minute, I promise. Just let me ... let me . . 

She cried quietly and softly, without' tearing sobs, but 
catching her breath in long, shuddering sighs. As fast as 
her tears came he wiped them away, watching her with an 
anxious, intent face. 

“ Lean your head against me. That’s better. Don’t 
feel miserable because this is ending. What we have had 
we have got ... a platitude you may have heard before. 
And what’s to prevent us having it again, in the autumn 
perhaps, or next spring, or Biarritz again this summer? 
Anything is possible.” 

“ Oh, but George ... if only George , . . you don’t 
know. ...” 

‘‘ We’ll manage George. Don’t you worry. Leave it 
to me. All you have to do now is to stop crying, because 
tears simply lacerate me.” 

She leaned her head against his side, against his coat, and 
closed her eyes. Her breath still came irregularly and 
spasmodically, but she was beginning to feel comforted and 
reassured. He bent his4iead and kissed her hair lightly, and 
then her forehead. These kisses had nothing in common 
with those kisses by the stairs, and they seemed to Althea 
infinitely more significant and promising and tender. Her 
dreads and difficulties began to lose their sharp outlines. 
Francis would make everything possible, he would make 
things easy and simple. There was nothing he couldn’t do. 
For a long time they sat like this in silence. Francis thought 
this emotional outburst not wholly surprising or unnatural. 
Such storms came, he imagined, from a total inability to 
fit the erotic and unacknowledged side of her nature into 
her everyday life. She was conscious that she would soon 
wake from a charming dream to open her eyes on prosaic 
day, and as long as she saw her life as more prosaic than it 
was, and romance as more romantic than it would ever be, 
such transitions were bound to cause suffering. But it 
was not his business to point this out to her, nor would she 
have admitted it. He thought most women profoundly 

149 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

ignorant of their own natures and their own needs. Over- 
nice traditions kept them from examining, sorting out and 
confessing to themselves the mainsprings of their own moods 
and actions, and it was not for him to try to reveal them. 

“ Forgive me for crying,” she presently said. “ I don’t 
know what made me ... I hardly ever cry like that . . . 
Fm so ashamed.” 

The only thing 1 can’t forgive a woman for is for never 
crying,” he answered. “ And you cry adorably. But don’t 
do it unless you must, because it alarms me more than I can 
tell you. Are you kll right now ? ” 

He lifted her face to see, his hand under her chin. Her 
eyes were closed, and her lips still quivered. He kissed her 
forehead once more and her fingers tightened about his 
hand. Then the green door swung open with a whine of 
hinges and the edge of the tea-tray appeared, followed by 
Dante. 

“ Tea ! ” exclaimed Francis, without moving. “ It 
couldn’t have come at a better moment.” 

Dante put down the tray on a table beside Althea, and 
looked at her with kindly sympathy shining out of his 
brown eyes, for it was quite plain to him that she had been 
in tears. Then he addressed himself to Francis, and said 
he hoped they had everything they required. This gave 
Francis an opportunity to use his precise Italian in a way 
that he liked. 

Everything, Dante,” he said, “ but a new world for the 
signora.” Dante looked up at the sky, at the flowers 
blooming around them, at the dazzling, sun-lit walls of the 
villa, and replied : 

“ But why ask for a new world, signor, when God has 
made this one so excellent ? ” 

Francis answered, smiling : 

“ The world is only excellent, Dante, if we are happy.” 

“ The signor is right. Therefore it is wise to be always 
happy, and for that reason one is a philosopher. Philo- 
sophy is to the sorrows and pains of this life what the 
umbrella is to rain*” 


150 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

This was said with exquisite seriousness and the air of 
stating a simple and obvious truth, and when he had gone 
in, Francis translated their conversation for the amusement 
of Althea. 

“ Take it from me,” he said, “ Dante knows what he’s 
talking about” 

Althea reached for her bag and began to powder her 
face with quick, light movements. 

“ Oh, don’t talk to me about philosophy ! ” she said, 
with a trace of irritation. “ It does well enough at seventy. 
It may help you to endure, but I don’t want to endure, and 
I don’t intend to. I want to change things. I want to 
be active. I want to make things happen.” 

“ How young ! ” said Francis, smiling. 

“ Yes, I’m young, thank heaven, and so it’s not too late 
to make an effort. Why should I be philosophical? I 
leave that to the nonagenarians.” 

“ But drastic changes,” said Francis, enjoying her little 
show of scorn, “ are so often for the worse. Things, left 
alone, very often have a way of determining themselves 
satisfactorily.” 

“ Oh, I’m not talking about the map of Europe,” she 
cried, impatiently. “ I’m talking about personal problems, 
and, being a woman, I mean my own personal problems. 
Isn’t there anything in your life,” she asked with a straight 
look at him, “ that you want to change ? ” 

“ Yes,” he said, with unexpected frankness. “ There is. 
But in that respect I’m something of a fatalist. So much 
so that I believe time will bring it about.” 

Again that keen glance, over her pocket mirror. 

“ What makes you think that ? ” 

“ It’s merely a premonition. I have them now and again, 
I would place no reliance on them, except for the fact that 
they sometimes prove correct.” 

She looked away, and drawing her chair closer to the 
table, began to pour out the tea, her mind busy with what 
he had said, and her pulse quickening. She did not regret 
her tears. To cry in the presence of a man establishes an 

151 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

intimacy that can never be wholly dissolved, and she knew 
it, being skilful in the wars. 

“ You remember my saying that Baroque art began with 
Michelangelo ? ” he remarked, reaching for his book and 
opening it. “ Well, listen to this.” 

“ Francis, here’s your tea,” she interrupted, not sure 
that, at this point, she wished to be read to. 

“ All right, thanks. I like it to cool. Here we are. 
Listen to this. I’ll read it to you.” * 

And for the next twenty minutes, until the declining sun 
drove them indoors and Mary returned, she listened to 
Francis reading about Michelangelo and Titian and Rubens, 
and at the same time thought of the difficulties that lay 
ahead of her. Francis’s policy of laissez-faire seemed to 
her somewhat unsatisfactory and vague, but what he, no 
doubt, meant to convey was his dislike of abrupt, crude 
methods. Certainly it was comforting to hear that he 
believed fate was helping them. They would need, she 
considered, all the help from fate that they could get. But 
first of all, and all the time, they must help themselves. 


152 



CHAPTER XII 


As Tuesday approached, George’s spirits rose and fell, rose 
again and fell again. He’d been a fool to worry, everything 
was all right, and by Wednesday they would have resumed 
their old life again, the sweet, normal, regular life of a pros- 
perous, happily married couple. Althea would once more 
talk to him through the half-open door as she lay in her 
bath ; the odour of her bath-salts would drift into his room 
as he dressed ; he would see her once again at her mirror, 
her quick, slim hands busy with this bottle and that ; he 
would hear the opening and shutting of her bureau drawers, 
and her light, brisk footsteps. He would come home from 
the office and find her with Cleve, a slightly altered person- 
ality then, a mother, with a watchful face and an autho- 
ritative voice, and a way of talking to the nurse that was 
always a little unfamiliar to him. And at night there would 
be once again the exquisite consciousness of the presence 
of her warm, curved body. 

And a moment later he would believe that he had lost 
all this, all this dear intimacy with a being who was not 
only lovely and desirable in herself, but was also a flattering 
and necessary extension of himself, so that to imagine 
himself cut off from her was like imagining himself cut off 
from his own spirit, from the most vital and precious part 
of his own ego. And he would experience an agony of 
mind so acute that it would have been a relief if he could 
have cried aloud. 

Then he would reason with himself, and think : 

“ But after being away for two whole months she ought 
to be pretty glad to see me again. She’ll have forgotten 
all about that row we had. She’ll have pretty nearly for- 
gotten that I was jealous of Francis. I’ll talk about him 
just exactly as Fd talk about anyone else, and say I’d like 
to see him and ask how he is. Why shouldn’t I ? There’s 

153 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

nothing in that. Ell take Cleve and the nurse down to 
Victoria to meet her if she gets the early train. She’d like 
that. I guess London is going to look pretty good to her 
after all this time.” 

He hoped Tuesday would be a fine day, so that London 
would be at its best. He had begun to feel a proprietary 
pride in London now, and he had lately discovered, and 
confided the fact to Mrs. Allgood, that he loved it. 

“ It’s funny,” he said, “ I feel as different about London 
now as though I’d lived here twenty years instead of one. 
I’ve got attached to it, like a cat to a hearth. 1 guess it’s a 
good deal of it your doing.” 

On Saturday she rang him up to know if he would go to 
Mullion with her on Sunday, either by train or in his car. 
She had to go to see the garden and talk to the gardener, 
and she thought it would be lovely if they could have a 
picnic lunch there and spend the day. It would probably 
be their last day together. George was delighted with this 
proposal, and said that he had arranged to play golf with 
Harry Sullivan, but that he would soon fix that. 

“ I’m crazy to see Mullion again,” he told her. “ We’ll 
go in the Buick, of course. It’s a great idea.” 

April had only two more days to run, and Sunday was 
warm and bright. The sun had at last come out, but as a 
convalescent recovering from a long illness, sparing its 
strength and not exerting itself overmuch. The country 
was softly, mistily green, and George recaptured his sensa- 
tions of nearly a year ago with surprising vividness. He 
spoke of this to Mrs. Allgood. 

“ Yes, memories of that sort,” she said, “ seem to be 
ineffaceable, and are as real as tables and chairs. My 
earliest recollections are not of things, but of thoughts about 
things. I can remember my thoughts about a serious illness 
1 had as a child perfectly, though I can’t remember the pains 
that went with it, or the doctor or the nurse. It’s curious 
how little impression pain makes on the memory. We can’t 
really remember physical sensations ; we only remember what 
we thought about them, which is a mercy, on the whole.” 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Well,” said George, “ I only hope I won’t be able to 
remember the feelings I’ve had these last few weeks about 
Althea. I don’t want to live over them again.” 

By the end of next week,” Mrs. Allgood assured him, 
“ you’ll have very nearly forgotten them.” 

She was dressed for the country in an old tweed coat 
with a fur collar, and wore thick shoes suitable for a wet 
garden in the spring. George remarked on their way to 
Mullion that it must be a fine thing to have a hobby like hers. 

“ What hobby ? ” she asked. 

“ Gardening. Isn’t that your hobby ? ” 

“ I haven’t got a hobby. I don’t like hobbies. I hate 
people who specialize too much in anything, unless it’s a 
profession or an art that may legitimately claim an entire 
devotion. Hobbies make bores, in my opinion. What’s 
your idea of a bore, George ? ” 

George said he thought it was something heavy and 
ponderous. 

“ Not to me,” she answered. “ I don’t mind heavy 
things. It’s active, persistent things that annoy and irritate. 
When I speak of a bore I think of a tool like an auger or 
gimlet, that penetrates and makes a round hole ; or I think 
of those unpleasant little insects that bore holes in wood to 
lay their eggs in — only bores haven’t any eggs to lay. No, 
to me the real bore is the person who can only go in one 
direction, and who goes persistently, grinding and grinding 
till he’s bored into your very soul, and you’re ready to 
scream with the discomfort of it. People who are merely 
heavy and dull and inactive are so harmless that it’s un- 
grateful to object to them. It’s the grinders and borers 
who kill.” 

‘‘ Well, that let’s me out all right,” said George. “ I’m 
one of the harmless ones, I guess.” 

“ You, you dear creature,” she returned, “ are every- 
thing that’s agreeable. If William and Althea were out of 
the way, which God forbid, I’d gladly set up housekeeping 
with you to-morrow.” 

George laughed, but he was pleased and flattered. 

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“ Fm afraid Fve been a bore these last few weeks,” he 
said. “ Now that Tuesday’s so near, I, can’t help thinking 
I’ve been an awful fool to worry so. I feel ashamed when 
I think what you’ve had to put up with.” 

“ Don’t be ridiculous, George. The role of comforter is 
a role every woman loves, when she can’t get a better one.” 
She added, “ I’ve never enjoyed my annual visit to London 
as much as I have this time, and it’s entirely due to you. 
I’ve hardly missed William at all, and I haven’t once felt 
jealous of Emmaline.” 

“You’re not really jealous of your sister-in-law, are 
you ? I should think she’d be jealous of you.” 

“ Oh, yes,” Mrs. Allgood confessed, “ I am, horribly 
jealous, though I struggle with it, of course. Mine’s a 
curious existence, George. I feel like talking about myself 
this morning. May I ? ” 

“ You’ll never find a better listener.” 

“ You see,” she began, “ I’m an actress, and a thing all 
actresses must have is vitality. Well, I’ve got it — more 
than my share, I think. I never tire, or hardly ever. 
Physically and mentally I like to be as active as possible. 
On the stage I loved learning diflBcult parts, and I didn’t 
care how many I played in a short time. I never wanted to 
rest. Then I married William, and I found myself in a 
very pleasant and rather intellectual backwater. I was 
extremely happy in it until that illness of his that changed 
so much. Now I suffer a sort of double agony. I suffer 
for his helplessness and I suffer for my own loss — a shadow 
of his, but bad enough. I’m full of life and energy, and I 
live with a cripple; the man I love is a helpless wreck. 
Don’t think I’m merely complaining; there is no^ such 
thought in my mind. But I die a daily death when I think 
what our life was and what it is now. To all intents and 
purposes William has been snuffed out, like a candle. He 
makes a few notes, he writes a little, he hobbles paipfully 
about the garden. He breathes the air at Pau and takes 
the cure at Aix, and that’s his life — ^and what a life for a 
man ! Before his illness we were happy as people rarely 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

are happy. Now he’s just as content to be with his sister 
j^mmaline as with me. More so, I think, for with me he’s 
more conscious of his ruin. That’s why I say I’m jealous 
of her. They went away together once when I was ill and 
couldn’t go with him, and that was the thin edge of the 
white elephant, so to speak, for now they go every year, and 
Emmaline spends half her time at Mullion. It isn’t that 
I don’t like her. I do. She’s a fine character, she’s sterling, 
she’s British; and by that I mean she has all our good, 
rather tiresome virtues and none of our humorous, nice 
failings. She’s full of moral indignations, and she more 
or less brought William up. He’s hers, and now that he’s 
a cripple, more hers than mine. Now you understand 
what my life is like. I’ve never talked to you so frankly 
before, have I ? And I’m young still, George. I could go 
back to the stage — there are more and better parts written 
to-day for women of my age than ever before — I could hve 
again, I could even love and be loved again. I don’t want 
you to pity me — good heavens, no ! — but I do want you to 
know what it’s like to be Kate Allgood, just as I want to 
know what it’s like to be George Goodall. A hundreds 
half friendships are less to me than one complete one. 
For every one of us is a universe, and to see clearly into the 
life of another person is to know another world.” 

She stopped speaking and looked at the moving road in 
front, while George looked at her. He was in love with 
her honesty, in love with her willingness to lay bare the 
truth in every direction, to whisk the covers off the mere 
appearances of things. And he understood for the first 
time what it must mean for such a woman to suffer her 
talents, her powers, to lie dormant, to see them rot and 
die from disuse. He longed to be able to cdmfort her 
in some way, to enrich her as she had enriched and com- 
forted him. 

“ It looks as though you and I had been brought together 
for an object, Kate,” he said. “ To help each other, or 
something. You’ve certainly helped me, but so far the 
debt’s all on one side. I can only tell you this. Next to 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Althea and Cleve, you mean more to me than anyone else 
in the world.” 

He put his hand over hers and pressed it. She turned 
her head slowly and looked full in his eyes, smiling. 

“ Promise me something,” she said, 
ni promise you anything. Go ahead.” 

“ Promise me you won't get fat. Fve noticed of late 
years a decided tendency on the part of American males to 
run to bald heads and adipose tissue. The bald heads 1 
don’t mind, for I don’t see how they can be helped — 
though I confess Fm glad yours is nicely covered — but fat 
I do mind, and I hope you won’t commit that indiscretion. 
We used to think of American men years ago as lean, lanky, 
loose-jointed — the Lincoln type, the Uncle Sam type, the 
Virginian type. Where are they now ? And I do so love 
a bony man, or at least a man who wears his bones some- 
where near the surface. Corpulence is a symptom of decay, 
and for America to show symptoms of decay now is 
precocious. Fm sure the Romans got fat before Rome 
fell. Fm not sure the Greeks didn’t run to fat in the late 
^period. A little less of your office chair, a little less of your 
good cooking — promise me, George, you’ll be careful.” 

He promised, amused at her change of mood. He 
didn’t guess what a deliberate change it was. 

They went through that lovely village, Britwell Beeches, 
and presently turned in at the gates of Mullion. The old 
house lay at right angles to the straight driveway, its closed 
shutters giving it a peaceful, somnolent look. It was small, 
gabled, Elizabethan, and built of brick. Its tall chimneys 
were twisted and ornate, its doorway pointed and Gothic, 
with k projecting porch. Lawns of intense greenness sur- 
rounded it, with woods at a decent distance, and between 
lay the rose gardens, the Dutch garden, the herbaceous 
borders, and beyond them, toward the back, lay the kitchen 
garden, with its high brick wall and espaliered fruit trees, 
now in bloom. The birds were making song everywhere, 
and the air was full of soft, warm promises. As George 
observed the green symphony about him, he thought how 

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much he would like to live in a place like Mullion. Whittle- 
worth, which Althea had admired so much, he wouldn’t 
have had for a gift, but a place like this he could be perfectly 
happy in. It was no good thinking of it, of course. Althea 
wouldn’t dream of living in the country altogether, and he 
couldn’t afford two places yet. He wished that she could 
see Mullion, all the same. While Mrs. Allgood talked to 
the gardener and made suggestions and moved with him 
from one part of the garden to another, George followed 
them about at a little distance, and wondered what he was 
going to do about her and Althea. They’d never be friends, 
however willing Mrs. Allgood might be, and this fact seemed 
to him curious and unnatural. If Althea didn’t actively 
dislike Mrs. Allgood, she certainly was not disposed to 
troubleherself about her and showed no desire to cultivate 
her acquaintance. How, then, was he to go on seeing her 
after Althea got back ? It was true that in a week or two 
her stay in London would be over and she would be at 
Mullion again with her husband and probably her sister- 
in-law, so he wouldn’t be Ukely to see her anyhow, unless 
she came to London sometimes . . . and lunched with him. 
Yes, lunch ... a man’s time was his own then. He’d 
have to talk to her about that. It was out of the question 
that he should now give up seeing her ; that he should cease 
to enjoy the treasures of her mind and personality. Look 
what she’d done for him ! She’d given him a completely 
new outlook on life — or shown it to him, anyway — and a 
man couldn’t suddenly leave all that and swim alone again. 

“ Come indoors now,” she said at last. “ It must be 
time for lunch. Mrs. McDoon, the gardener’s wife, has 
something ready for us — sandwiches and a salad, and a 
bottle of port, unless you’d prefer something else.” 

Most of the rooms were shut up, and the furniture covered 
with dust-sheets, but Mrs. Allgood’s little sitting-room, 
panelled with old oak, had been made ready for visitors, 
and there a fire had been lighted and a small table spread, 
and George sat down to the most private and intimate meal 
he had ever had with her. 


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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ You’ll have to come up to London sometimes, when 
you’ve come back here, and lunch with me, Kate,” he said. 
‘‘ I’ve been thinking, while I was following you round* the 
garden, that it isn’t going to be very easy to see you later 
on. 

Mrs. Allgood agreed that it wasn’t. 

“ I’d ask you both down to stay,” she said, “ for a week- 
end now and then but I doubt if Althea would care about 
it, or find William and Emmaline very stimulating company. 
But if you’d come alone, it would be delightful.” He was 
silent, so she added quickly, “ No, no, how stupid of me ! 
I forgot that American wives go here and there independently 
of their husbands, but well-brought-up American husbands 
do not go independently of their wives. I’ll lunch with 
you in London sometimes. That will have to suffice.” 

“ It won’t,” said George gloomily ; “ but I suppose it’s 
the best we can do. You’ll have to write to me at the 
office pretty often, though, and I’ll write to you.” 

“ Why at the office ? ” she asked, amused. 

“ Oh, well, at the house, then. Anywhere ; it doesn’t 
matter. I don’t know why I said the office.” 

“ Dearest George, I was teasing you. I will write to the 
office, because I know how wives invariably adopt one of two 
attitudes in regard to their husbands’ friends. They either 
make jokes about them or they’re jealous of them. Althea 
is much too sensible to be jealous, so she’ll laugh at you, 
and I can’t allow that. We must just go on as best we can. 
I know I’m good for you, and I know you’re goo4 for me, 
so we won’t bid each other good-bye. I couldn’t bear it.” 

After lunch they took a walk, and Mrs. Allgood picked 
primroses to take back to London with her. As they 
returned to Mullion George said: 

“ I could get terribly fond of a place like this.” 

“ Yes,” she said, “ I think you could. I adore it, and 
I hope I’m grateful enough for it. We who live in lovely 
surroundings ought to be very humble towards those who 
don’t. Pecq)le who talk unsympathetically about the work- 
ing classes and live softly themselves ought to find a very 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

special hell waiting for them somewhere. And then to 
have leisure in which to think, to read and admire — there’s 
no doubt that in many ways Fm a peculiarly fortunate 
woman.” 

“ You’re peculiar in admitting it,” said George. “ Most 
people don’t.” 

They crossed a lawn by a little path of broken paving- 
stones, through which minute forget-me-nots looked up, to 
a small spring garden enclosed by hedges, within whose 
shelter jonquils, primulas, narcissus and early yellow wall- 
flowers bloomed. Mrs. Allgood began filling a basket 
with flowers, and George listened to the pleasant staccato 
noise her scissors made. They talked about a book he had 
been reading, and he complained that his memory was 
unreliable. 

“ I don’t remember half of what I read, the way I 
ought to.” 

“ That doesn’t matter,” she said consolingly. “ One 
reads to form one’s opinions, and that takes place almost 
unconsciously. And it’s the opinions that matter. Those 
you’re bound to modify and change from time to time, but 
you don’t forget them. You make them part of you. 
That’s what reading does, or should do.” 

George looked at her as she bent over the flower-beds 
and said to himself : 

“ That’s the kind of woman a man like me ought to live 
with,” and then was amazed at his own thoughts. When 
a man takes pleasure at the thought of living at a woman’s 
side, anyone would say that he must be pretty far gone in 
love. But he wasn’t. Good God, of course he wasn’t. 

‘‘ And never be afraid of changing your opinions,” she 
went on, “ A man who is constantly searching in his own 
mind for the truth, will be certain to contradict himself 
again and again. That’s why the demand for consistency 
in politics is so supremely silly. A man who never changes 
his opinions may be a boon to his party, but if he’s a man 
of any wits he must be a traitor to himself.” 

“ I guess that’s true enough,” agreed George. 

161 


F 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Spencer says that life is a continuous adjustment of 
inner and outer relations. A continuous adjustment,” she 
repeated. “ It’s absolutely true. Consistency encourages 
growth about as much as a Chinese woman’s shoe does. 
And all books do is to help you to adjust yourself to life. 
A delicate, subtle and delightful process. How patiently 
you listen to me, George ! No wonder I love talking to 
you. One of these days I’ll make up for it by listening to 
you whenever and for as long as you like. I have to be 
careful what I say when I’m talking to William, because 
loose thinking or talking irritates him. He likes the con- 
sidered utterances of philosophers and scientists or the 
artless prattle of children, and very little in between. 
Generalizations he simply won’t tolerate. Emmaline gets 
on well with him because she doesn’t talk at all. So you 
see with him I have to go warily.” 

“ Well, I know what line I’ll have to take if I see him 
again,” said George. 

Oh, he liked you that day. And of course I exaggerate 
his intolerances. But he was such a delightful host in the 
old days. He had that genuine ‘ My house is yours ’ 
gesture, and meant it Oh, George ! ” she cried, suddenly 
“ it’s terrible, terrible, what illness or an accident can do to 
human beings. Are our souls, our spirits, only emanations 
of our bodies, generated by them, made or marred by 
them ? William is a different man. His very spirit seems 
altered. I can’t find the one I knew. I look and look for 
it. I loved a man with a calm, generous mind, a man with 
wit and temperament. Now I love an ailing, querulous 
savant. Oh, it’s tragic, it’s tragic . . . ! ” 

She turned quickly away from him, and he guessed that 
there were tears in her eyes. He wondered what he could 
say to comfort her, but there seemed to be nothing. She 
turned toward the house with her basket full of flowers, 
and he walked beside her. 

“ Life isn*t all roses for you, Kate,” he said, presently. 
“ I wish it were.” 

” Oh, I am ‘ pierced by the arrows of this ghostly world,’ ” 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

she answered, “ like anybody else. Why should I be let 
off?” 

“ Yes, I guess we all are, sooner or later. Well, I’ll 
either be a happy man on Tuesday or shot full of holes. 
I wonder which.” 

She smiled at him, all sign of tears gone now. 

“ Everything will be all right 1 can’t help believing in 
your good fortune, well as I understand your anxiety. 
Most of the troubles men suffer from consist in being loved 
too well by the wrong woman and not being loved well 
enough by the right one. But I believe all will be well for 
you, my dear, I promise you I do.” 

They were in the doorway now of the empty house. 
George felt a wave of affection for her fill his heart. With 
something of a desire to give her a little of that which her 
life so tragically lacked, and something of a desire to express 
the generous warmth he felt towards her, he suddenly 
clasped her and kissed her on the mouth. 

You darling ! ” he said. You’ve got a heart as big 
as all outdoors. I just adore you, Kate.” 

She stood there, firm as a rock, and took his kiss. Her 
dark, fine eyes looked straight into his. 

“ Bless you for that,” she said, and turning, led the way 
into her sitting-room again. “ A cup of tea, and then 
we’ll go back. I hope you’ve liked the day as well as I 
have. And it’s been delicious to tell you my troubles.” 

“ Dine with me to-night,” he begged, like a lover. 
“ We’ve only got to-night and to-morrow night.” 

“ Oh, my dear George, both nights ? Very well. Only 
you must dine with me to-morrow night. That will be 
lovely.” 

When, later, George was dressing in his room at home 
he was puzzled at the state of his own feelings. At the 
very moment of his most acute anxiety about Althea, of 
his most acute longing for her, he found himself at the 
highest point, so far, of his liking and affection for Mrs. 
Allgood. He wouldn’t have thought such a thing possible 
a few months ago. 


163 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ But how can you help loving a woman like that ? ” he 
asked himself. Perhaps he oughtn’t to have kissed her, 
but how sensibly she had taken it — as though he had made 
her a charming gift. Then, suddenly, in a moment, he was 
overwhelmed by his old fears. See how unconsciously he 
had drifted into this, how simply and naturally ! Into what 
kind of relationship, then, had Althea drifted with Francis ? 
Oh, God ! What mightn’t she be feeling for him ? And 
this was their last evening in Florence, at the villa ! If only 
he’d been able to forget it for another forty-eight hours ! 


164 



CHAPTER XIII 


Tuesday was precisely the sort of day George had hoped 
it would be. Soft, warm and bright. They’d have a fine 
crossing, and although they weren’t arriving till nearly 
seven, it would still be daylight. He told Grieves to get 
plenty of flowers for the house, and suggested tulips. He 
told the nurse to have Cleve ready to be taken in the car to 
meet his mother at Victoria. By the time he left the office, 
at five o’clock, he was so eager and excited that not a single 
doubt or fear lingered in his mind. She was nearly home. 
That visit to Italy would soon be a thing of the past — a 
happy memory for her, a grim one for him, but past, past, 
past. They would begin afresh, and he had a thousand 
things to tell her. He saw no reason, now, for returning to 
America inside of three years, and he could hardly wait to 
assure her of this. If they put up that factory, and it was 
practically decided that they should do so, he would have 
his hands full. It would be like organizing the whole 
business over again, and he knew that no one could do that 
any better than he could himself. He felt settled now, he 
had begun to be aware of his roots. His life had once more 
fallen into a pleasant and orderly pattern. He would take 
shooting lessons. He had a good eye, such things came 
easily to him, and if he took a little trouble he had no fear 
that grouse, pheasant or partridge would prove too much 
for him. He’d been obstinate, and wrong-headed about it. 
He’d fought everything, nearly, when he first came over: 
English ways, English pronunciations, English ideas. He 
wasn’t like that now. When in Rome — and how much more 
so when in London, and how much easier ! He liked the 
American Club, he liked his golf club in Surrey and the 
half-dozen others at which he could play if he would, he 
liked the easy tenor of English life, where one was un- 
conscious of strife and scarcely conscious of competition. 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

He was fond of their spacious, airy house, and of the careful 
ministrations of the grave but pleasant Grieves, ministra- 
tions that had in them some of the quality of religious ritual. 
He was no less an American citizen, but he had learnt the 
trick of transplanting himself. A Norway spruce planted 
in an English park is no less a Norway spruce, though it 
find good nourishment in that alien soil. 

Much of this he had realized since Althea had been away. 
Perhaps he had had more time to think — or perhaps it was 
talking to Kate so much that had crystallized his feelings 
and opinions. But he wanted to acquaint her with his 
altered point of view at the earliest possible moment. He 
went home elated and in high spirits, and found a telegram 
waiting for him on the hall table. It was from Paris, and 
his heart dropped like a stone when he read it. 

“ Owing to slight accident Italian train delayed, so 
missed connections in Paris. Staying to-night at President 
Lincoln Hotel, arriving London three-thirty to-morrow. 
Althea.” 

He swore, stood thinking for a moment, then rang for 
Grieves. What cursed luck ! What a perfectly unfore- 
seen and infernal nuisance . . . ! 

‘‘ Grieves, there’s been a delay. Mrs. Goodall won’t be 
back till to-morrow, about four. Something happened to 
the Italian train last night, and they missed the Paris train. 
I’ll just dine here by myself. I’ll go up and tell the nurse 
now.” 

He thrust the telegram into his pocket and went upstairs. 
His first feeling had been one of intense and bitter dis- 
appointment, aching disappointment, and this lasted till 
he reached the nursery. Then, just as he was opening the 
door, the black thought struck him, “ Perhaps they just 
wanted a night in Paris, to have a party or something. 
How do I know ? They didn’t stop on the way out. 
Maybe they just made up their minds they’d have a night on 
the tiles this time.” 

He felt wounded and angry. Cleve was in the night 
nursery, being dressed, and when George called out, 

166 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Nurse ! ” he came running in with his coat on and flung 
himself at his father. 

‘‘ Hello, boy,” George said, picking him up in his arms 
and kissing him. “ How is my son ? ” 

‘‘ I’m quite ail right, thank you. When are we going to 
the station ? Now ? ” 

“ No, not to-day.” He put him down. “ Nurse,” he 
said, as she came in, “ Mrs. Goodall can’t get back till to- 
morrow, at three-thirty. She missed connections in Paris.” 

“ Oh,” Cleve wailed, “ I want to go and meet mummie 
to-day. Why can’t I ? ” 

‘‘ Because she isn’t coining till to-morrow. Master Cleve. 
Didn’t you hear your father say ? That’s too bad, isn’t it, 
sir ? It seems as though she’s been away a long time, now. 
Master Cleve was looking forward to seeing her to-day, 
weren’t you ? But never mind, we’ll be ready to-morrow.” 

“ I may not be able to go to the station to-morrow,” 
George said. “ I have a rather important engagement. 
But if I can’t, you and Cleve will have to go without me. 
And if I go at all. I’ll have to go straight from the City, 
ril order the car to be here at three.” 

“ Very well, sir, we'll be ready. And Master Cleve can 
have the pleasure of thinking about it to-morrow, too.” 
Cleve burst into tears. 

“ I don’t want to think about it to-morrow. I want to 
go and meet her to-day.” 

George thought he knew exactly how Cleve felt, but he 
told him to stop crying at once. 

“All right, nurse, I’ll stay with him for half an hour or so. 
Get out your blocks, Cleve, and we’ll build the Woolworth 
Building, or anything you like. Only stop crying right 
away, or I’ll go downstairs again, see? None of that. 
You’re not a baby now. You’re a big boy.” 

Cleve stopped crying at once, and with sudden animation 
ran to the cupboard where his blocks were kept and began 
pulling out the big box. 

“ How high’ll we build it, daddy ? A hundred stories ? 
Ten hundred hundred stories ? ” 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Oh, we’ll see if we can run it up to about twenty first,” 
said George, and getting down on the floor he overturned 
the box with a pleasing din of falling bricks. 

“ They thought they’d Just like to step out in Paris for 
one night,” he said to himself. “ Why couldn’t she say 
so ? All that bunk about the train being delayed. ... I 
don’t believe a word of it. ‘ What shall we tell George ? 
Oh, tell him we’ve been held up by a slight accident.’ I can 
imagine how they discussed it. Hell, I’m not going down 
to meet that train to-morrow. Cleve and the nurse can go. 
That meeting with Chivers about the factory site oughtn’t 
to be put off. I’m hanged if I’ll go. Anyhow, they’ll be 
busy saying good-bye to each other at the station. I’ll just 
come home at the usual time. I’ve had about enough of 
this sort of thing.” 

It wants a broader base than that, boy, if we’re going 
to run it up to any height,” he said. Oh, I’ll tell you 
what ! Let’s build the factory. You know I’m going to 
build a factory, Cleve, to make tables and desks and things. 
I told you the other day. Well, we’ll pretend we’re going 
to build it now, shall we ? ” 

Cleve shouted with delight. 

“ Oh, yes, oh, yes ! Let’s pretend we’re going to build 
it now. How high’ll it be ? Ninety stories high ? A 
million stories high ? ” 

“ About four, I think,” said George gravely. “ Come to 
earth, my boy. We’re building in England, not New York. 
Now for the foundations.” 

The next day at three he was sitting in his office behind 
his Goodall desk talking to a stout, red-faced man in a 
shabby raincoat about a piece of property near Slough, on 
the Great Western Railway. It had come down to a 
question of price. Mr. Chivers had grown so elated at the 
idea of selling to an American company that his opinion of 
the value of it was inclined to soar. George was patient. 
He knew what the property was worth very well, and he 
realized perfectly that Mr. Chivers was picturing the firm 
of Goodall and Co. as a powerful American trust with 

168 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

unlimited funds at its disposal. So when he offered a sum 
that was five hundred pounds less than he was willing to 
pay and Mr. Chivers countered this by suggesting a sum 
that was five hundred pounds more than he was willing to 
pay, he saw that an agreement was within sight. It was 
three o’clock. If they could come to a satisfactory arrange- 
ment within the next twenty minutes, he might still, if he 
wished, go to the station to meet Althea. 

“ Well, there you are, Mr. Chivers. We’re a thousand 
pounds apart. That’s a lot of money. And at the 
moment it doesn’t look as though we should get any 
nearer. That site isn’t v/orth what you’re asking for it. 
It is worth what I’m olfering for it. Think it over.” 

He turned about in his chair as though to end the inter- 
view, but Mr. Chivers was in no hurry. He took out a 
pencil and a piece of paper and began working out some- 
thing by means of figures. He then said that if he were to 
cut off that half acre to the north and sell it to the adjoining 
brickworks he could perhaps meet Mr. Goodall in the 
matter. Wh^t did he say to that ? 

“ Just what I said before,” George told him. “ That 
piece of property as it stands is worth what I offered. 
And I don’t think you’ll get it from anybody else. Well, 
that’s all right. Hold on to it if you don’t want to sell. 
Sixty years from now it may be part of London, the way 
the city’s spreading, and then it will be worth your price, 
but I doubt if you’ll be here to see it.” He looked at his 
watch. “ And now I’m afraid I ought to keep an appoint- 
ment, if you’ll excuse me.” 

Mr. Chivers took up a round cloth hat and proceeded 
towards the door. 

” Seems a pity we can’t settle it now,” he said. 

” We’re too far apart,” said George, briskly. “ Think it 
over, Mr. Chivers, and if you like, look in at the same time 
to-morrow. Then you can let me have your last word. 
Good day to you.” 

It was nearly a quarter past three when the door closed 
on Mr. Chivers, and George still sat in his chair with his 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

watch on the desk in front of him. There was plenty of 
time. Those boat trains were apt to be a few minutes late. 
The truth was that he didn’t feel disposed to go. If 
Althea wanted to keep putting off her return, why should 
he be kept on the jump ready to go and meet her at any 
time of the day or night ? For all he knew there might be 
another telegram waiting for him on the hall table. No, he 
wasn’t going. She had plenty of people to look after her. 
Cleve and the nurse would meet her, and that was enough. 
He didn’t feel inclined to turn up smiling and kiss her with 
Francis looking on. Besides, there were a lot of letters he 
ought to dictate. He rang for his secretary. 

“ Miss Williams, will you take down some letters, please ? 
The first one is to R. Lemaitre and Company — et Cie, you 
know — Forty-Four Rue Leopold, Brussels. Dear Sirs 

Two hours later he closed his desk and departed. He 
had half expected Althea to telephone, but she had not 
done so. Nor had he. And she had been in London an 
hour and a half. It suddenly struck him that this was no 
way to treat a tired woman whose train had been delayed 
through no fault of hers, and who had had to break her 
journey whether she would or no. He would have to 
make that appointment with Chivers seem longer and 
more important than it actually was. It was consistent 
with his state of mind at this time that he should now look 
upon his own behaviour as wrong-headed and ill-advised. 
He got into a taxi and told the driver to ‘‘ step on it,” but 
it was one of those taxis that groan, rumble and clank, stop 
with a jerk and start again with difficulty, so he arrived in 
Wilton Crescent feeling nervously exhausted. As he entered 
the house and closed the door, he thought he heard some- 
one running hastily up the stairs. He put aside his hat and 
went up to the drawing-room, then finding it empty, he 
proceeded to Althea’s bedroom, where he found only her 
maid, busy with her unpacking. He called up the stairs 
and heard Althea’s voice. 

“ Is that you, George ? I’m up here, in the nursery.” 

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He went up, his heart thumping violently. She was 
standing in the middle of the bright, neat room talking to 
the nurse, with Cleve holding to her hand. She was 
breathing quickly. 

“ Hello, George. Fm sorry you couldn’t come to the 
station to meet me.” 

They met and kissed each other with Cleve and the nurse 
looking on. The latter, however, went away into the night 
nursery and closed the door. 

“ Yes, Fm sorry,” George said. “ I had a rather im- 
portant meeting with a man ” 

“ Oh, 1 knew it was business, of course,” she replied with 
pleasantly modulated voice and smile. “ How are you ? ” 

“ Fine,” said George. How are you ? You look 
well. I guess you’ve had a wonderful lime. I was all 
ready to meet you yesterday when your telegram came.” 

“ Yes, it was too bad. Something happened in the night 
just after we passed the French border. We stopped for 
ages, and men got out and hammered away underneath us. 
And after that we went slowly and lost time. We missed 
connections in Paris by two hours. It was maddening. 
Nobody wants to spend just one night in Paris like that. 
Luckily Mary and I both had a change with us, so we dined 
at a restaurant and went to a revue. But it wasn’t much 
fun catching the eight-twenty this morning, 1 can tell you. 
Cleve looks well, doesn’t he ? I don’t believe he’s missed 
me a bit.” 

“ Yes I have, mummie,” Cleve cried indignantly. “ You 
oughtn’t to say that. And I cried yesterday because you 
didn’t come.” 

She kissed him and fondled his head. 

“ Children are always disappointed when things are put 
off,” she said, “ but I couldn’t help it, Clevie.” 

“ I guess other people besides children are disappointed,” 
George remarked. 

“ Well, you might have met me at the station, all the same. 
I was expecting you, and so were the others. Never mind. 
How have Grieves and Mrs. Thompson been getting on ? ” 

17L 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Oh, all right. No trouble at all. Were you sorry to 
leave Italy ? ” 

They sat down in the small white nursery chairs, Cleve 
leaning against Athea’s knee. Was she sorry to leave Italy ? 
What a question to have to answer. All the way back she 
had felt heart-sick at leaving it, at leaving Florence at its 
loveliest and most seductive, at leaving that adorable villa, 
at leaving the sweet, blond Tuscan countryside, at leaving 
the most perfect, the most utterly satisfactory bit of life 
she had ever known, a life that was too dream-like, too 
happy, to be anything but transient. But, oh, how lovely ! 
And then to come back to house-keeping, to doing without 
Francis, except at rare intervals, to jfactory sites and office 
furniture. Yes, that month when she had lived under the 
same roof as Francis, inside the same four walls, when she 
had seen him daily, intimately, intimately, was the happiest 
of her whole existence. She wanted to tell George so, to 
state it baldly and brutally in order to relieve her pent-up 
feelings, her tense nerves. But she only said : 

“ Oh, yes, of course, in a way. Still, I’d been away a 
good long time.” 

From George’s point of view this was an unsatisfactory 
enough answer. How distant and strange she was ! Was 
it because he hadn’t come to the station ? What a fool 
he’d been to obscure their reunion with a purely adventitious 
cause for complaint ! How could he diagnose her feelings 
towards him when he didn’t know how much of her cold- 
ness was due to the fact that she was hurt ? 

“ Come on down to the drawing-room,” he said. ” I 
never feel comfortable up here in these chairs. Cleve can 
come down for a while, can’t he ? ” 

“ He’s going to have his supper soon. You go down. 
I thought I’d stay here with him till it was ready. Show 
me your copy-book, Cleve darling, I want to see how 
you’re getting on with your writing.” 

George stayed too, but he was somehow made to feel 
superfluous. Not by Cleve, but by Althea, whose attitude 
toward her son had never been more fond and motherly, 

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When they left the nursery she said it was time for them to 
dress for dinner. She made no reference to the business or 
to the factory, and asked no questions. Her manner was 
tinged with weariness, even with sadness. Well, she was 
probably tired. Anyone would have been. When they 
were in her room he asked : 

“ How are Mary and Francis ? ” 

She brightened. 

“ Oh, very well. 1 simply couldn’t have found two more 
perfect companions for a trip like that. There wasn’t a 
single unpleasantness of any sort the whole time. It seems 
like a lovely dream now. Francis is going straight down to 
Hawfield, but Mary wants us to dine with her to-morrow 
night, so you’ll see her then. She was really sorry you 
couldn’t come to Florence.” 

It was the first friendly thing she had said. He put an 
arm about her. 

” Were you sorry, baby ? ” 

She avoided his caress. 

” My dear George, you know I was. I did my best to 
persuade you to come. Don’t let’s have all that over 
again.” 

1 only asked you a question. I wanted to know.” 
He thought it advisable to change the subject. ” Did you 
see any more of Mrs. Tilling ? ” 

“ No, we didn’t want to. We were quite happy by 
ourselves. She’s a fake, that woman, even if she does know 
a lot of well-known people. She’s a climber. I suppose 
she’s climbed as far as she wants to now, but she’s worked 
hard. Mary and Francis can’t stand her.” 

” There were a whole pile of letters for you in the hall,” 
he said next. ” I suppose you found them all right.” 

” Yes. I read them while 1 was having tea. There were 
a lot of invitations. Cynthia Causton is taking a house in 
Sussex for Goodwood, and wants us to come for a week. 
That’s in July some time, I think. I’ll look them over again 
this evening. Now that the season’s begun I suppose we’ll 
be pretty busy. I must arrange some dinner-parties. 1 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

wish Fd thought about being presented at Court this year. 
I can’t think why I didn’t. It’s too late now. Have you 
seen anything of the Bennington s ? I had a letter from 
Clodagh while I was in Florence. I thought it was sweet of 
her to write.” 

“ I had dinner with them one night, and they asked me 
down for a week-end, but I didn’t go.” 

“ Why not ? ” 

“ Oh, I didn’t want to leave London, and Fd promised 
Cleve to take him to the Zoo that Sunday.” 

“ I think it’s a pity you didn’t go.” 

She came into his room in her flowered dressing-gown 
and looked about her. She saw a new photograph on the 
mantel. 

“ Who’s that?” 

“ Don’t you recognize it ? ” 

She went closer and examined it. It was a picture of 
Mrs. Allgood standing at the door of Mullion. She had 
given it to George only a few days ago. 

“ Oh, yes, Mrs. Allgood. Is that her house ? It looks 
quite pretty. Have you become great friends ? ” 

This was more human. George replied with warmth: 

” I should say we had. I can’t t^ll you how good she’s 
been to me since you’ve been gone, Althea.” 

” Francis talked to me about her,” she said, putting the 
photograph back on the mantelpiece. “ I gather from him 
that she’s rather mannish. What are all those books over 
there ? ” 

“ Oh, just things I’ve been reading off and on,” George 
replied, suppressing a desire to say what he thought of this 
opinion. 

Althea went to the pile of books on the table by his bed — 
a pile that had certainly not been there before she went 
away — and examined them. 

“ ‘ The Decline of the West.’ Everybody seems to be 
reading that. ‘ Life of William Shakespeare,' by Sidney 
Lee. Well, well. More Shakespeare. ‘The Sonnets.’ 

‘ Othello.’ We are getting on. ‘ The Varieties of Religious 

174 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Experience,’ by William James. I thought you’d read that 
years ago. Frazer’s ‘ Golden Bough,’ abridged edition. 
Why this sudden change ? You never used to read any- 
thing but the Saturday Evening Post, Is this Mrs. Allgood’s 
doing ? ” 

“ Mostly,” George answered, a little self-consciously. 

“ I’d better go abroad again, I think. It seems to do you 
good.” She returned to her own room, and he heard her 
say, “ Oh, but I’m tired. My very bones ache. I think 
I’ll go to bed immediately after dinner.” 

When he had had his bath — he took it first, at her request 
— he looked into her room to tell her the bathroom was 
ready, and saw her lying on the bed. The sight moved him. 
He approached, and bending over her, kissed her on the 
forehead. 

“ My darling, I’m sorry you’re tired. You’ll be all right 
to-morrow, won’t you ? ” 

” Oh, I expect so. Don’t fuss, George. You’d better 
go and get dressed. You take longer than I do.” 

He went briskly into his room with an air of not minding 
this rebuff. He had been on the point of telling her his real 
reason for not going to meet her at the station, but he saw 
that this would have been unwise. 

No, she certainly did not seem glad to be back. 


175 



CHAPTER XIV 


For the next few days George marvelled, very unhappily, 
at the power of a woman to make a man miserable without 
uttering a single definitely unpleasant word or performing a 
single definitely unkind act. He reflected that the power 
women had anyway was terrific, no matter how they used 
it. By their very sex, by their very personalities, by their 
curious capacity for permeating the lives of men, they were 
dangerous and despotic, and their goodwill and favour 
things of almost incredible importance. Somehow, God 
alone knew how, he had temporarily lost Althea's. He told 
himself it was temporary, because if he hadn’t believed that, 
he felt he would have gone out of his mind, and the problem 
of how to win them back obsessed him constantly. 

Those two months abroad had certainly made her no 
happier, and although he realized that the breach had 
begun — if breach there were — before she went, he believed 
they would have been happier if she had never gone. 

She talked about Francis a good deal, as if she couldn’t 
help herself, or as if, he sometimes thought, to show that she 
had nothing to hide. He wondered if she got letters from 
him, but wouldn’t ask, and then one day she offered him 
one to read, and it seemed to be the first he had written to 
her since their return. There was little in it except com- 
ments on English country life, which, under other circum- 
stances, George would have found amusing. 

“ Dear Althea,” Francis wrote, 

“lam being filial at the moment, and spend half my 
time talking about the garden with my mother and the 
other half talking about the estate with my father. Some- 
times he and I go for walks together and inspect the different 
coverts, but one can hardly take a walk in any direction 
here without smelling dead vermin and seeing rows of 

176 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

pathetic little bodies, furred or feathered, nailed up on a 
board or swinging from fence rails. The head keeper is a 
sort of Bela Kun, and smells of blood. My father takes the 
business of preserving game with immense seriousness, 
although he’s getting too old to shoot himself and knows I 
care nothing for it. This keeping up of tradition for tradi- 
tion’s sake is thoroughly English, and therefore half admir- 
able and half childish. 

“ We dine with the neighbours and have the neighbours 
to dine, and the talk is about as light as the pronouncements 
of II Duce for the Press, and about as stimulating as 
nursery pudding. Whatever was is right; whatever is is 
dubious ; and whatever will be is subversive and dangerous. 
Both my father and mother are charming and I love them, 
but I shall be back in London on Tuesday, weary with well- 
doing and ready for any or all of the sins of modern life. 
Which reminds me that old Lord Minchinhall, my father’s 
boy friend aged ninety, whose estates march with ours as the 
saying is, came to dine the other night, and while inveighing, 
as is his custom, against modern life in all its manifestations, 
thundered out, ‘ The whole occupation of the present 
generation is finding pleasant synonyms for sin.’ I con- 
gratulated him heartily on this, and told him it was the 
best remark that had been made in our county since 1886. 

“ How I miss Florence ! Do you ? I miss the crowds 
of street politicians with their black clothes and black eyes, 
the sun turning the sluggish old Arno from brown to green, 
the majesty of the Signoria tower, the slim beauty of the 
Campanile, the cavernous Duomo, the little delicate tender 
hills, the vineyards, the flowers, the villa, the enchanting 
company — all of it. Give my best to George. 

“ Yours ever, 

“ Francis.” 

Well, that was all right. That was harmless enough, and 
if it hadn’t been for Althea’s too great admiration, he could 
have liked Francis a lot. He did like him, but with what 
agonizing misgivings ! Anyhow, why did a man want to 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

take the trouble to write entertaining letters to another 
man’s wife, even thought there was nothing in those letters 
that the husband might not be shown ? In Althea’s case it 
was certainly mischievous. And suddenly he made up his 
mind that he would like to talk to Francis, that he would 
like to put all his cards on the table and explain the situation 
frankly. He was ready to believe that Francis was un- 
aware of the fascination he exerted on Althea, unaware that 
he so charged the atmosphere all around him that he was 
disarranging and disturbing the whole current of their lives, 
and diverting it from its normal channels. 

He couldn’t get Althea to take any interest in the factory. 
She said that he must do as he thought best. The purchase 
of the site still hung fire, as Mr. Chivers had come down 
only two hundred pounds, and George knew that if he 
waited he could get it at his own price, which was five 
hundred pounds more than he had offered. Meanwhile he 
lunched once with Mrs. Allgood, and advised her of the 
general situation. 

“ Give her time,” she said, “ to get back to normal. 
She’s feeling that slight depression very often experienced 
on the resumption of domestic duties. I shall feel it myself 
when I get back to Mullion, though I confess I’m longing to 
see William again. I always think matrimony is like a pair 
of shoes. Go free and barefoot long enough and you’ll 
find they pinch badly when you put them on again. Mean- 
while your feet have spread, they’ve changed their shape a 
little. But persevere and you’ll be able to wear the shoes 
again without discomfort. Althea’s probably feeling the 
pinch at this moment. So give her time.” 

George gave her time — and a Rolls-Royce. For some 
months he had been regretting his stubbornness in not 
having done so when they first came over, for although the 
Buick satisfied their every requirement, the fact remained 
that Althea had set her heart on a Rolls. So when he 
heard there was a chance of acquiring one that had been 
used only for demonstrations, at a price well below the 
original cost price— for even in his most anxious and 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

uxorious moments, George kept his head — he sold the 
Buick and purchased the other. He kept these transactions 
from Althea, and explained the hiatus between the sale of 
the old and the arrival of the new by some talk of repairs. 
Allhea was completely taken aback, then, when she saw 
Beale sitting, one morning, at the driving-wheel of one of 
the handsomest cars she had ever seen. George had post- 
poned his departure for the office until she was ready to go 
out shopping in order to witness her surprise. She was so 
entirely unprepared for the sight that he thought at first the 
affair had been an enormous success. 

“ Why didn’t you tell me ? ” She stood looking at it, 
with a curious sense of shock and displeasure which she 
tried to hide. Of delight in this magnificent gift she had 
none at all. Instead she felt annoyance, remorse and pain. 
Poor George . . . how she would have enjoyed this six 
months ago ! Now it meant less than nothing to her . . . 
worse than nothing. It meant another rope around her, 
another hampering obligation, another worry. She had 
enough before. 

“ It would have spoilt all the fun if I’d told you. She’s a 
beauty, isn’t she ? You wanted a Rolls, didn’t you, baby ? 
Well, now you’ve got one.” 

She got into the car with an uncomfortable shrinking 
feeling. This was deplorable, dreadful . . . 

“ I’m afraid you’ve been very extravagant. If you’d asked 
me I would certainly have advised you not to do it. I don’t 
feel as I did when we first came over. I’ve quite got over 
wanting anything so showy.” 

“ Showy ? I’d like to know what there is showy about 
this car.” He got in beside her, and told Beale to go to 
Bond Street. 

“ I don’t mean that the car itself is showy. It’s lovely, of 
course, and I do appreciate it, but . . 

He turned to look at her, crestfallen and hurt. 

“ My God, but you’ve changed, Althea. I don’t know 
what to make of you.” 

“ Ob, well, don’t worry about that. Some people do 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

change, and I suppose Fin one of them. I don’t want the 
sort of things I used to want. Fve learnt that people here 
don’t care whether you’ve got a Rolls or a Ford if they like 
you.” 

” I imagine real people are like that anywhere,” George 
remarked. “ And I don’t want you to change. I hadn’t 
any fault to find with you before.” 

She put a hand on his knee. 

” My dear George, you can’t keep a plant from growing 
unless you kill it. Wouldn’t you like me to take you to the 
office ? It’s pretty late. Or would you rather be dropped 
somewhere ? Or will you drop me in Bond Street, and then 
go on to the office ? I don’t mind which.” 

You’d better drop me in Piccadilly, and I’ll take a taxi 
the rest of the way. Keep the car. It suits you better than 
it does me, and it’s yours, besides. Take it along and show 
it to Mary, and tell her how bored you are with it.” 

For some time they rode in silence, without looking at 
each other. As they approached Bond Street, George 
tapped on the glass and the car stopped. 

” I’ll get out here. Good-bye.” 

“ George. . , .” Althea looked distressed and put out a 
hand, but he ignored it. He got into a passing taxi and 
watched the big grey car swing round into Bond Street with 
Althea, looking very small, sitting in the corner. His brain 
whirled. 

“ I guess it’s all over. She hates me. She hates every- 
thing I do for her. She’s completely changed. How is it 
possible for anyone to change like that ? Oh, God ! what 
am I going to do ? She’s stopped even liking me.” 

He found Mr. Chivers waiting for him at the office. 
They met at last over the price of the site, and George closed 
the deal. It gave him a certain satisfaction to do this. It 
was something positive and definite and constructive. The 
building of the factory would be put in hand at once, and 
would occupy a good deal of his time. He’d be as busy, he 
told himself, as a one-armed paper-hanger with the hives, 
and that would be the only thing that would keep him from 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

going crazy. That, and perhaps talking to Francis and 
satisfying himself, if he could, that he had nothing to do 
with this change in Althea. He wrote to Francis and asked 
him to lunch at the Carlton Grill the next day but one, at 
one-thirty. He did this impulsively and with misgivings, 
and posted the letter before he could change his mind. 

That night when he went home Althea was more cordial, 
but still reserved and distant. The sight of his face as he 
left the car had moved her. It was all going to be horribly 
difficult, but she must try to harden herself. No one could 
go through what she would have to go through without 
suffering and causing suffering. She was intensely sorry 
for George and for herself, but she couldn’t make him happy 
now; she had changed too much. She felt she wanted to 
take a powerful drug and sleep for several weeks, and then 
wake to find all this miserable business over. She wanted 
to avoid quarrels and flare-ups if she possibly could, and say 
nothing definite until she had had an opportunity of talking 
it all over quietly with Francis. Her nerves were in such a 
state that flare-ups would be frequent if she didn’t watch 
herself. So when George returned from the office morose 
and inclined to be silent, she talked to him amiably, as if 
nothing had happened, and told him that the car was really 
a joy, and that Mary had said she was very envious. 

This all seemed to George as hollow as it really was, and 
did nothing to lighten his depression. They dined alone, 
Althea in an orchid-coloured tea-gown that became her 
very well and made her hair look black and her skin like old 
ivory. George tried to avoid looking at her. He had 
never before known what agony was. If you lost people 
by death you hoped to meet them again in another world ; 
you believed you would if you were a Christian. But if 
you lost them in the way he was losing her, you lost them 
for ever and ever, for the bond that kept you together, the 
bond of mutual love and longing, ceased to exist. So there 
was no tragedy comparable to this one. What sort of line, 
he asked himself, would other men have taken ? Would 
they have said, “ Look here, if you’re hankering after that 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

fellow, if you’re preferring him to me, you’ve got to cut it 
out, see ? Cut it out or get out.” Some women might 
have responded to such a rough-and-ready method, but not 
Althea, Nor could he adopt it. 

After dinner in the drawing-room she was so afraid that 
he was going to “ have it out ” with her that she at once 
took up a book and left him to the evening papers, which 
he was in no mind to read. The room was still and pleas- 
ant, lit only by lamps, and flowers bloomed softly and 
luminously in the half-lights beyond. It was always quiet 
there in Wilton Crescent, and to-night there seemed no 
sounds at all except the hum of a passing taxi now and 
again. George sat thinking, thinking, while Althea turned 
the pages of her book. What a mask-like face hers was at 
times, all closed in, closed down. Her smooth, lowered 
eyelids were like porcelain, hiding eyes that were for him 
now like eyes of glass, so unresponsive, so expressionless 
were they. Oh, where had she gone, his darling? To 
what remote and unknown regions had that spirit, that 
had once so quickly and warmly responded to his, 
retired ? 

He suddenly threw aside the papers he was holding and 
crossing the space between them, dropped to the flobr, en- 
circling her knees with his arms. 

‘‘ Althea, what’s happening to us ? What’s wrong ? 
For God’s sake tell me, tell me ! Oh, my darling, I adore 
you, don’t let anything come between us ! ” He felt her 
shrink away and stiffen. Half ashamed of this too emo- 
tional outburst, he said more quietly, “ I’m not going away 
until you’ve talked to me. There’s something wrong . . . 
pretty near everything’s wrong, it seems to me. Why is it ? 
What’s happened ? Can’t you tell me ? Can’t you ? ” 
He pressed her knees and laid his head upon them. I 
can’t stand this sort of thing much longer.” 

“ Oh, George ... I wish you wouldn’t . . . Grieves 
may come in any minute,” She spoke tersely, breathlessly. 
“ Yes, I know things are different. I can’t help it, I don’t 
want to discuss it. Just leave me alone for a while. Y ou’d 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

better, George. Really, you’d better. Just leave me alone.” 

“ I can’t. I’ve got to know what’s wrong. You can’t 
treat a man as you’re treating me and not tell him anything. 
Is it Francis Mortlake ? Has he made all this difference ? 
Ever since we’ve been over here, almost . . 

She seized upon this at once. 

“ Oh, yes, of course you’ll blame it on our having come 
to England. If we’d stayed in God's country, I suppose 
everything would have been all right. Well, that’s absolute 
nonsense. People who agree about things could hve 
happily in Timbuctoo. The trouble is we don’t agree about 
anything any more. I love Europe, I love the life here, and 
you don’t. One of these days you’ll want to drag me back 
to America, and I don’t want to go. If we had things in 
common it wouldn’t matter, but we haven’t, and that makes 
all the difference. We’re just miles and miles apart. 
You don’t change in any way, and I do, I have. I’m happy 
here and like it, and you’re not happy and don’t like it, and 
it’s like that with everything.” 

“ Who said I didn’t like it here ? Who said I wasn’t 
happy ? ” demanded the stricken George. “ I could be 
happy anywhere where you were, if you were as you used 
to be. I do like it here. I’ve grown to like it a lot — more 
than you know. So it’s no good your saying that ; it isn’t 
true. As for wanting to go back, I’ve started to build this 
factory now, and that’ll keep me here longer. And if I did 
have to go, Fd leave you here if you liked, if that would 
make you any happier. There’s no reason to go looking 
ahead for trouble. There needn’t be any. Why are we 
miles and miles apart ? We didn’t used to be. Who’s put 
us apart ? ” 

In another minute he would speak of Francis again. 
She mustn’t let him speak of Francis. Neither could she go 
on with this conversation. It was too hollow, too painful. 
Nothing was wrong except that he was George, and Francis 
was Francis. No amount of trying on George’s part could 
change anything. There was nothing she wanted from him 
now. All that was past. 


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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ George, don't let’s go on with this argument. We’ll 
only say things we wish we hadn’t said.” 

I want you to tell me what’s wrong.” 

I tell you you’d better leave me alone for a while. 
Perhaps Fm not well. I feel all nerves. Fm sorry Fve 
been disagreeable; it seems as though I couldn’t help it. 
But don’t worry me, please, please.” She put her hands on 
his head and tried to push him away. “ Perhaps Fm ill. 
ni see a doctor if you like. I feel 1 could fly to pieces some- 
times. Only don’t bother me, please, George, please.” 
Her voice grew more sharp and imperative. 

He clasped her waist as though he could never let 
her go. 

1 won’t. I won't bother you, my darling. I love you 
to death. All this is driving me crazy. Try and get over it. 
See ten doctors. Go away again if you like. Only don’t 
forget that I adore you, and that you’re my whole world. 
My darling, darling ! ” 

He kissed her wildly, hardly aware of her protesting 
hands, then left her and went downstairs and out of the 
house. She heard the front door slam and heard his foot- 
steps die away. That was over. A crisis was temporarily 
averted. But how exhausting and alarming ! She took 
her book and hurried up to bed. By the time he returned, 
an hour later, she was sound asleep, and did not even hear 
him go to his room. 

Francis telephoned that he would be delighted to lunch 
with George, and would meet him at the time and place 
suggested. For a day and a half George tried, at odd 
moments, to outline some plan of campaign, but quite un- 
successfully. It had better be left, he decided, to the 
inspiration of the moment, if any. 

He thought Francis was looking very well, very tall and 
very brown. Switzerland and then Italy had darkened his 
skin, and this colour became him well. He said he was 
glad to see George. He was no sooner seated at the table 
than the head waiter and two lesser ones approached and 
greeted him. He had been away a long time, they said. 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

They were glad to see him looking so well. How were his 
Lordship and her Ladyship ? 

“ This is the sort of thing that gets Althea,” George 
thought. “ Everyone knowing him and liking him. Well, 
hell ! they used to act just the same with me at the Am- 
bassadors’ in New York, only they didn’t ask tenderly 
about my parents.” He felt a little awkward and shy, and 
began to order the lunch. It was a mistake to have planned 
this; he’d never get a chance to slip the right word in, even 
if he could find it. 

“ A small, simple lunch for me, please, George,” said 
Francis. “ May I have an oyster, a cutlet and a cup of 
coffee ? And a glass of beer, if you don’t mind.” 

George said he’d have the same. 

“ You ought to have come to Florence,” Francis told 
him. “ We missed you. Well, if I had a business like 
yours I don’t think I’d leave it either, and 1 wish to heaven I 
had. How is it going ? ” 

“ Oh, fine,” George said. “ Better than I ever expected. 
I’m going to have to open agencies in Brussels, Paris and 
Berlin later, I guess, and I’ve decided to build a factory 
here.” 

“ You’d better give me the Paris agency,” Francis 
suggested. “ I’d love to sell something. It’s a terrible 
thing, George, to belong to a family that has never sold 
anything. As far back as you like to go the Mortlakes 
have always been buyers, accumulators. I wish you could 
see the inside of Hawfield. The last time we had an in- 
ventory it took four men five weeks to do it. It suffocates 
me to think about it.” 

“ It must be a wonderful place, all the same,” said 
George. 

“ You wouldn’t say that if you had to inherit it. Think 
of having that hanging over you. I’m very fond of my 
father, and I should hate him to die as it is, but I’d sell my 
soul for some elixir that would enable him to outlive me. 
On the day I become Lord Beauvais I shall probably be 
found with my head in a gas oven.” 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Couldn’t you sell the place if you liked ? ” 

“ Good Lord, no. It’s entailed. And I can’t let it. 
Who’d take it ? No, if you have tears to shed, prepare to 
shed them on the day I inherit. I tell Althea this, but she 
doesn’t believe a. word of it. Neither will you. That’s the 
worst of you democrats. Only aristocracy will ever put 
aristocracy in its place. How is Althea, by the way ? I 
wrote to her the other day.” 

“ Oh, she’s all right,” George said, thinking that this sort 
of thing was very difficult to cope with. “ I think she was 
sorry to leave Florence.” 

“ We all were. We had a very happy time there,” said 
Francis. “ Mary and I had to quash Althea’s social yearn- 
ings now and again — she hankered somewhat after night- 
clubs and Mrs. Tilling — but there really wasn’t a single 
incident to ripple our quiet. Even without the charms of 
Florence I would have enjoyed watching and talking to 
Althea. Like all American women who have come my 
way, she’s quick as lightning at picking up information. I 
think they take it in through their pores. Anyone else 
would go plodding about with a Baedeker, but Althea never 
looked at one — she had such a horror of being taken for an 
American tourist — or at least we never caught her at it, but 
she was always exceedingly well informed.” 

“ Oh, she’s quick all right,” agreed George. ‘‘ I don’t 
know where she gets her knowledge from. We’ll go by 
some house here and she’ll draw my attention to it and say, 
‘ That’s the Duke of So and So’s house,’ or ‘ That’s where 
Prince Somebody stays when he’s in London,’ or, ‘ That’s 
where Henry James lived.’ It beats me how she gets to 
know. She doesn’t go to any trouble about it either. It’s 
the same thing when we’re in a restaurant. If there’s a 
well-known actor or actress in the place, or a famous 
cocotte, or somebody in society, she spots them straight off. 
It’s uncanny.” 

“ Yes,” said Francis, “ and she can hear whole conversa- 
tions from across a room. Women like Althea would be 
very useful to the Intelligence Department. Well, George, 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

I consider you an extremely fortunate fellow. You’ve built 
up a fine business fpr the success of which you’ve no one to 
thank but yourself ” 

“ And the aunt who left me the money I put into it,” 
suggested George, modestly. 

“ Good health, good looks, youth, an enchanting wife 
and a fine son. And what have I ? The awful shadow of 
Hawfield hanging over me and the problem of how to live 
like a white man on a too large income. To anyone who 
has an eye for irony, the possession of wealth in these days 
is full of not very pleasing paradoxes. If I’d lived in the 
eighteenth century, before the development of industry and 
consciences, I’d have been the happiest of men. I’d prob- 
ably have emigrated to Virginia, bought a big estate, built a 
great house on it, kept hundreds of black slaves and im- 
ported fine horses, fine wines, fine pictures and furniture and 
exquisite mistresses, and lived like a king. What a spacious 
and delightful existence for a man of taste and wealth ! 
Instead of that I was born into the industrial age. In- 
dustry ! As though there hadn’t been industry since the 
beginning of the world, before the world was blackened by 
factory smoke. My only consolation is that I’ve never 
ground the faces of the poor. I haven’t ground anything. 
You, on the contrary, probably have a damned uneasy 
conscience or ought to have.” 

George laughed at this and answered : 

“ Well, if anyone can build better office furniture 
for less money than I can, Fd like to see them do it. 
And we’ve never even had a strike at the works in 
Hartford.” 

“ There you are,” said Francis. “ Your good fortune is 
established.” 

Here was an opportunity that might have been made 
to order, but before George could decide whether he 
wished to make use of it or not an even better one pre- 
sented itself. 

“ What’s Althea doing this afternoon ? ” Francis asked. 
“ I thought I might take her to an exhibitioh at the Burling- 

187 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

ton Fine Arts. Do you think she’d like to go, or is she 
doing something else ? ” 

“ I don’t know what she’s doing,” said George, with a 
feeling of having stepped over a precipice to firm ground 
again. You’d better ring her up and find out.” To him- 
self he said, “■ No, I can’t do it. T can’t possibly do it. 1 
don’t know how I thought I could.” He added, “ 1 
expect if she isn’t busy she’d like to go.” 

No man with an ounce of pride or self-respect, he thought, 
could have said what he had meant to say. Althea was 
certainly acting very queerly, but could he hold Francis to 
blame for that, or suggest to him that he might be to blame 
for it ? It also struck him very forcibly that if he and 
Althea weren’t getting on, that was, of all matters in the 
world, the most private, the most strictly personal and 
secret. And he knew he could no more discuss his rela- 
tions with Althea and her coldness to him at that time and 
place than he could have brought her there and asked her to 
undress. And yet half an hour ago he had thought he 
could ! 

They talked in the most friendly way about this and that, 
and George asked Francis to come down to the office one 
day, which Francis said he’d be delighted to do. He then 
asked George when he and Althea could come and dine 
with him, and George said he’d better consult Althea about 
dates, so while he waited, Francis rang up Althea, and 
presently announced to George that he had persuaded her 
to go with him to the exhibition, and that they were to dine 
with him the following evening. 

“ That’s fine,” George said. “ Well, so long, Francis. 
I’ve got to get along to the office now.” 

“ By-bye, George, old boy. Thanks for lunch. Come 
and lunch with me at White’s one day. We’ll fix it up to- 
morrow night.” 

He liked Francis better than he had ever liked him 
before. He couldn’t believe there was any foundation for 
his suspicions. Francis was too open, too natural, too 
frank, too good a fellow. No, he couldn’t believe it. 

188 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ There’s only one thing to do,” he told himself on his 
way to the office. “ Give her another day or two, and then 
if she’s still the same, have it out with her properly. I’ve 
stood all I’m going to stand, and a good deal more than I 
ought to stand. And if she doesn’t look out there’s going 
to be one hell of a row.” 


189 



CHAPTER XV 


Mrs. Allgood was still in London. She rang George up 
at his office that afternoon to tell him that she would be 
there at least another week longer, as William had caught a 
cold at Pau, and they weren’t returning till he was better. 
She said she didn’t want to go down to Mullion and stay 
there alone. 

“ Oh, George, how I miss our dinners, and how I miss 
you ! Can’t you come in after you leave the office this 
afternoon, for a few minutes ? It would be lovely if you 
could. Anyway, come if you can. I’ll be in.” 

It was exactly what he wanted. He hadn’t seen her for 
four days. He left the office at five o’clock and hastened to 
Westminster. 

It was a warm day, and all the windows in Mrs. Allgood’s 
sister-in-law’s flat were wide open. The mild and gentle air 
stirred the curtains and the petals of the flowers from 
Mullion with which the sitting-room was filled. Mrs. All- 
good wore a thin dress with transparent sleeves that showed 
her fine arms. When the maid showed him in and closed 
the door she held out both hands to him and kissed him 
warmly on both cheeks. 

“ Dear, dear George ! I couldn’t have borne it another 
day. I haven’t seen you since lunch-time on Tuesday, 
When I woke up this morning and realized this was Friday, 
which is always a grey day for me, I knew I had to see you, 
and at once,” 

“ I was wondering how I was going to do without you 
till Monday,” George said, sitting down. “ Why is Friday 
a grey day ? ” 

“ I don’t know, but it is. I’ve always seen the days of 
the week in colours, ever since I was a child. Sunday is 
deep, purplish-blue, Monday is a pale, clear, sky-blue. 
Tuesday’s yellow, Wednesday’s red — I adore Wednesday. 

190 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Thursday is orange, Friday is grey, and Saturday is a jade 
green. Fm sorry to be arbitrary about it, but that’s the 
way they’ve always looked to me. Will you have tea, or 
something stronger ? Tea’s coming in a minute.” 

George thought he’d have tea, and the maid presently 
brought in the tray. 

Tell me your news,” said Mrs. Allgood. 

“ News ? I don’t believe there is any. I lunched with 
Francis to-day. We dined with Lady Causton last night. 
We’re dining somewhere else to-night. Is that what you 
mean by news ? ” 

“ Well, lunching with Francis is news. How is he ? ” 

“ He’s all right. I like him. 1 can’t seem to help liking 
him. I asked him to lunch with me because I wanted to 
tell him he was going to be a home-breaker if he didn’t look 
out, but when we met, of course I couldn’t say a word.” 

“ Of course you couldn’t. Fm glad you couldn’t. Are 
things no better ? ” 

“ Worse,” said George, and added, colouring, “ She 
locks me out of her room now.” 

Mrs. Allgood looked startled. 

‘‘ Oh, my dear George. Really, is it as bad as that ? 
What explanation . . . ? ” 

“ Oh . . , nerves. But it isn’t nerves. I don’t know 
what it is. She’s sick of me, I guess. If something doesn’t 
happen pretty soon there’s going to be an awful bust-up. 
She’s polite and says she’s sorry, but she just wants to be 
let alone. It’s hell, Kate. There’s no other word for it. 
I haven’t wanted anything in the world except to make her 
happy. Why, I told her the other day that if she was 
happiest living here she needn’t ever go back to America if 
she didn’t want to, I’m not going to make her. She treats 
me as though I were spoiling her life, and doing it on pur- 
pose. I don’t know what to do. We can’t go on like this.” 

“ No,” Mrs. Allgood agreed. “ You must have it out 
with her. Don’t be afraid of her, George. Stand up to 
her. And if she’s really in love with Francis it’s better that 
you should know it.” 


191 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Oh, 1 tried to get it out of her the other night, but she 
only kept telling me to leave her alone. She isn’t happy 
either, poor kid. I don’t know what to do.” 

Mrs. Allgood poured out the tea, and they talked and 
talked and arrived nowhere. She wondered, as they talked, 
how long it would take to kill a love like George’s. Years 
and years, probably. It would die hard, and heaven only 
knew what, in dying, it might not do to him. Oh, poor 
George ! How well she knew what he was going through. 
How well she knew that pain under the ribs, under the 
heart, the struggle between it and the brain to gain the 
upper hand; the brain trying conscientiously to rationalize, 
to mend, to put things in order, to save the situation, the 
pain clawing and tearing like a bird of prey. 

She knew there was only one explanation of Althea’s 
behaviour. She was genuinely in love with Francis. She 
had lost her head. Mrs. Allgood accepted this as a fact, 
and considered what could be done about it. Nothing. 
If she chose to leave George, she would. If she chose to 
divorce him, she would. If she chose to keep Cleve, she 
would. If she chose to marry Francis, and Francis were 
willing, she would. George could refuse to let her divorce 
him, he could keep the boy, it was possible that he might, 
Mrs. Allgood thought, keep her, for she understood that 
Althea was not well off, and that she feared her father. 
But to what purpose ? Their married life would be com- 
pletely ruined, George’s position comparable to that of the 
Ancient Mariner with the corpse of the dead albatross tied 
about his neck. No, she held all the cards, the little devil, 
and knew it. 

Still, Mrs. Allgood thought, it was silly to condemn her. 
If a woman has red hair, one does not blame her for notj 
being a blonde or a brunette. Althea was made as she was! 
made: a complicated bit of mechanism driven by fairly; 
obvious ambitions. f 

“ I think,” she said, “ you must try again, all the same. 
Bring the thing to a climax if you can. The longer you 
postpone it, the worse it will be.” 

192 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ I thought Sunday would be a good day,” George said, 
and then explained, ” We’re dining with Francis to-morrow 
night, and that will give me one more chance to see if . . . 
to sort of watch . . . only Althea’s too clever to give her- 
self away, even suppose there’s anything to give away. 
And I don’t believe there is, except that she’s just bored with 
me and sick of the sight of me. She’s compared me to 
Francis, and I don’t look good to her any more. That’s 
the truth of it. I don’t believe there’s anything between 
them. Oh, I don’t know ... I guess there must be. 
That’s the way I go on in my mind the whole time, Kate. 
I go around arguing with myself. . The other day I was 
reading ‘ Othello,’ and I came on one bit that sort of hit 
me between the eyes. It’s where the bird is talking to lago 
about his jealousy. You know, he begins, ‘ Why, why is 
this ? Think’st thou I’d make a life of jealousy, to follow 
still the changes of the moon with fresh suspicion ? ’ And 
then he says further on — this is the part I liked — ‘ Not from 
mine own weak merits will I draw the smallest fear or doubt 
of her revolt, for she had eyes and chose me.’ ” He turned 
his face quickly away from her. “ When I read it,” he said, 
“ tears came to my eyes, it was so exactly ... so 
exactly ...” 

They had come to Mrs. Allgood’s. She was suddenly 
overwhelmed with pity for him, with love and anxiety for 
him, and these had to find expression. She put both hands 
to her cheeks and looked at him with swimming eyes. 

“ George,” she said, in a small, moved voice, “ I do love 
you so. Don’t come near me, stay where you are. I just 
want to tell you. I know you, and I love you. I know 
everything you’re going through, I feel I know everything 
you are. The male mind is always so much more compre- 
hensible to me than the female, and generally so much 
nicer. If you were to talk to me about yourself for hours 
and hours and hours I wouldn’t know you any better than I 
know you now. Not if you were to turn yourself inside 
out for me. I don’t know what you are to me . , . some- 
thing very close and dear ... my child, my friend, you 
G 193 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

might even be my lover in a sense . . . but oh, you’re the 
dearest, dearest creature. Don’t think of yourself as you 
think Althea thinks of you. She doesn’t know, she doesn’t 
know. Think of yourself as I think of you, and be glad of 
everything you are.” She got up. “ I think perhaps you’d 
better go now. Go home, dear George.” 

He was on his feet, his eyes shining as she had never seen 
them shine before, as though everything he felt were con- 
centrated there and looking out. He looked like a man 
who has heard wild and incredibly lovely music, that no one 
else has heard, or would ever hear. The colour had left his 
face and there was an expression of great sweetness on it 
He stood looking at her with that expression of deep 
wonder and happiness pouring out of his eyes, then after a 
silence that rang in his ears he went to the door. 

“ Good-bye, Kate. I’U ring you up soon.” 

Ordinary words, but the only possible ones. 

She called after him : 

“ George, George ! I’ll tell you what I want you to do. 
I'll be in Sunday evening alone. If all goes well, I won’t 
expect to see you. If things go badly, come and tell me. 
I shall be here.” 

“ All right.” 

He didn’t look back, but went straight out and shut the 
door. 

Saturday night was like a feverish dream to George. 
Mary made a fourth, and they dined at a night-club where 
they could dance afterwards. As he knew that Francis was 
not very fond of dancing and that Mary liked it even less, 
this seemed ominous to him, for it looked as though Francis 
had wished to talk to Althea without being overheard, 
knowing that for purposes of speech people are never more 
alone thamupon a dance floor. After dinner he sat trying 
to talk to Mary and watching the other two. Oh, that tall, 
fine figure of Francis’s, that shapely head, that fuU chin, 
that would have looked well over a stock, those smiling, 
inscrutable eyes ! . . . George weighed and pondered over 

194 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

every attribute of his with a thoroughness that only jealousy 
could have inspired, 

Mary found his attention difficult to keep. Gentle, sad, 
reticent, she was not the type of woman who could ever have 
won George’s confidence, much as he liked her. She had 
little more reality for him than a picture. Only Mrs. All- 
good, who was not there, seemed real to him that evening, 
He thought of her constantly as he watched Althea and 
Francis and tried not to bore Mary. That robust and 
active mind had become for him a sort of harbour, and his 
thoughts ran to it and dropped anchor again and again. 
Yes, there was something robust and even animal about her, 
but consciously and splendidly animal. She once told him 
that she freely acknowledged the ape at the same moment 
that she reached for the fourth dimension, and he had 
remembered it. He had answered, thinking of a tree, that 
to get up to any height he supposed you had to go a good 
long way underground, whereupon she had replied that the 
mind that works quickly and accurately with symbols was 
capable of a good deal more than selling office f^urniture. 

Wh^ they went home, shortly after one, George was as 
much in the dark as ever as to Althea’s feelings for Francis. 
She had been gay, she had sparkled, she had looked delight- 
ful in a new lace dress. She had said sharp and teasing 
things to Francis, and he had made provocative replies. 
They had all laughed a good deal. He had danced two or 
three times with Althea and she had made pleasant, friendly 
remarks, and when she had danced with Francis she had not 
appeared to be enjoying it any more than was seemly. But 
what had they said ? What little secret signs and words . 
had passed between them ? He would never know. She 
said good-night to him like a sister, but an indifferent one, 
and closed her door, and he had turned away quickly for 
fear he should hear her lock it. 

He had asked her what she was going to do on Sunday, 
and she had said, “ Nothing much. Why ? ” He had 
answered, “ Well, don’t make any plans if you can help it. 
Let’s have a day to ourselves.” But while he was having a 

195 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

late breakfast in the little morning-room overlooking the 
garden — it was her habit nowadays to have a Continental 
breakfast in bed — she came in dressed to go out, and pulling 
on her gloves. 

George,” she said, “ Fm going to the service at West- 
minster Abbey. I’ve never been, and Francis said he’d 
take me. Would you care to come, or would you rather 
read the papers ? ” 

“ You might have told me sooner,” he said, with careful 
self-control. 

” I didn’t think of it till last night, and then I didn’t think 
you’d want to come. There’s time if you do. That is, if 
you hurry a little.” 

” No, thanks. Fm not coming.” 

“ All right. Fll be home to lunch. Good-bye.” Then 
she turned at the door. “ Oh, I forgot to say that Fm 
bringing Mary home to lunch. She’s very depressed and 
miserable because her husband’s ill, and she can’t go to see 
him, on account of that woman being with him. She 
wasn’t doing anything this afternoon, and I thought it 
might cheer her up if we went out somewhere in the car. 
Will you order it, for about half-past two ? ” 

“ Yes. Aren’t you going out in it now ? ” 

“ No. Fll pick up a taxi. Good-bye.” 

She knew, he reflected, when she had gone, that he 
wanted to have things out with her, that there was some- 
thing brewing, and she was trying to avoid being alone with 
him. She had probably fixed this up with Mary last night. 
He didn’t believe Monash was ill. Mary hadn’t mentioned 
it, nor had Francis. Well, they still had the evening, and he 
meant to make good use of it. He didn’t even look at the 
papers, but went out and walked from one end of Kensing- 
ton Gardens to the other, and back again, and every step of 
the way he talked to Althea. He was furious, he was 
tender ; he appealed, he threatened ; he put his hands about 
her throat and almost strangled her ; he picked her up in his 
arms and cherished her and reasoned with her; he was 
brutal and yearning, voluble and speechless, happy and 

196 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

ruined. They were reconciled, they were to separate for- 
ever ; he triumphed, he suffered death. 

Althea and Mary were just getting out of their taxi as he 
reached home. One glance at Althea’s face told him that 
although she might be suffering from nerves, although she 
might be badly run down, a morning spent with Francis 
had, temporarily at least, restored her. She looked as 
alive, as bright of eye as a woman only looks, he told himself 
cynically, when she has been out with her lover. And that 
he could make such a cynical reflection as this surprised 
him, and gave him a sort of bitter satisfaction, for six 
months ago he would have been incapable of it. 

Mary was clearly anxious and preoccupied, and from her 
own lips he learnt that what Althea had told him was per- 
fectly true. She looked sadder and more wistful, but no 
word of complaint ever seemed to pass her lips. He liked 
and admired her, and was sorry for her, but he wished he 
didn’t continually suspect collusion between her and 
Althea. If she were prepared to stay on to dinner he 
would have a word in her private ear, but although Althea 
asked her, when they returned from tea at an inn near Tap- 
low on the banks of the Thames, she declined, saying she 
had asked people to dine with her. This convinced George, 
if he had had any doubts before, that Althea knew quite 
well what his intentions were and was making every effort 
to postpone or avoid a dreaded conflict. 

During dinner they had very little to say to one another. 
George’s heart was beating thickly all the time, and his 
voice sounded so unnatural that he dreaded hearing it. 
He rehearsed in his mind all the conversational gambits 
that had occupied him in the park that morning and found 
them all impossible. They drank their coffee in the 
drawing-room, and as soon as Grieves had given them their 
coffee and left the room, Althea picked up a book and lay 
down on the sofa. 

“ This is the best novel Fve read for ages,” she said. 
“ Fm not going to put it down till Fve finished it.” 

George, who had drunk his coffee standing by the mantcl- 

197 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

piece, put aside his cup and walked slowly toward the sofa. 

“ Yes, you are. You’re going to put it down now, 
because I want to talk to you.” 

“ But what if I don’t wish to talk ? ” She didn’t raise her 
eyes from the page. 

“ For once you’ll do as I wish, please.” He sat down on 
the edge of the sofa where her drawn-up knees left room for 
him, and took a firm hold of the book with one hand, 

“ George, please don’t be tiresome. If you bother me 
m go upstairs and read. The sofa in my room is much 
more comfortable than this, anyway.” She looked coldly 
at him. “ Please leave go.” 

“ If you don’t put that book down when I ask you. I’ll 
take it away from you and throw it out of the window.” 

She at once released it, and he dropped it on the floor. 
She made a quick Uttle move to get away. 

“ Lie still. I’ve got you just where I want you for once. 
I want to talk to you, Althea. I want you to tell me what’s 
the matter, and why you’re acting like this and making my 
life and both our lives a hell. What’s wrong ? What do 
you want me to do ? What’s it all about ? I want you to 
tell me.” 

Her face grew more expressionless and mask-like, and 
her eyes were as cold and hard as glass. 

“ I’m sorry to hear I’ve made your life a hell. You ought 
to have told me sooner, and I should have known what to 
do.” 

WI 

“ That sort of talk isn’t going to get us anywhere. I 
want a full and honest explanation of your behaviour ever 
since you came back from Italy. You’ve acted as though 
you hated the very sight of me.” 

“ I’m not going to be catechized like this,” she protested 
angrily. “ Let me get up.” 

“ No, I won’t. Stay just where you are and answer my 
questions.” He took her by the wrists and held them fast 
in one hand. Her strength was puny compared to his. 

“ I’ll do nothing of the sort. I won’t answer. I won’t 
put up with this. It’s ridiculous. Go away, George.” 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Why are you behaving like this ? Tell me. There 
must be a reason. Tell me, and then you can get up.” 

She made no reply, and he shook her gently. 

“ Althea, we’ve got to have this out, and we might as well 
have it out now. I’U be as patient as I can, but you’re 
driving me nearly insane. We can’t go on like this any 
longer.” 

“ Will you let me get up ? ” 

“ Will you talk to me if I do ? ” 

“ If you’ll talk sensibly. But you’ve got to let me up 
first.” 

He got up from the sofa, releasing her hands, and she was 
up like a flash. He thought she was going to rush for the 
door, and he ran to it, exclaiming, “ No, you don’t ! ” 
and locked it, putting the key in his pocket. This angered 
her still further. 

“ It’s a pity you did that,” she said, with disgust and 
scorn in her voice and eyes. “ I’m not used to this sort of 
buUying.” 

“ No, you’re not. You’re not used to anything but 
adoration and devotion, but by God you’ve had enough of 
that from me. You treat me as though I weren’t fit for you 
to wipe your feet on. I’m not going to stand any more of 
it.” He pulled himself up with a great effort, for he knew 
he was losing control of himself, losing his head and his 
temper. “ Look here, Althea, I want to keep calm and 
talk calmly and quietly. Help me, for God’s sake. This 
means absolutely everything to me. You don’t know what 
you’re doing. You’re driving me clean out of my mind. I 
can’t stand it, I teU you. What’s happened to us ? What’s 
come between us ? You’ve got to tell me. I tell you 
you’ve got to. I don’t care if it kills me, I’ve got to know.” 

She picked up her book from the floor and sat on the 
arm of a chair, and her face was no longer Uke a mask, but 
strained and anxious, and her eyes dilated. This had come 
too soon, much, much too soon. She wasn’t ready. She 
felt as though she had been driven into a comer. How 
much was she going to say ? How much did she dare to 

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admit? She felt she lacked the support, the backing, 
which she ought to have had. In a little while she would 
have known precisely how to act. She had had no oppor- 
tunity of talking openly and freely to Francis. They had not 
been properly alone since that afternoon in Florence. She 
wanted to keep George at arm’s length as long as possible, 
to establish a sort of frozen No Man’s Land between them, 
and he was making it impossible. And she was sorry for 
him, terribly sorry. She hated to hurt him, at close 
quarters. She had meant to deal him the necessary blow at 
the right time and at a decent distance, so that she could not 
actually witness the results. It was one thing to wade 
through slaughter to a throne, and quite another to ap- 
proach the throne after the slaughter had been committed 
off-stage. And all this was agony for her. She had 
dreaded it all along, and it was even worse than she had 
anticipated. 

Oh, George, how foolish you are ! Why are you trying 
to force me to say things I don’t want to say ? ” 

“ Just tell me this, Althea.” He was walking up and 
down the room, trying hard to control his voice, trying to 
speak as though everything he cared for in the world were 
not at stake. “ Just tell me this, if you can. I don’t think 
you’ve ever really loved me — anyway, not as 1 love you — 
but I think you were very fond of me once, and pretty happy. 
Anyway, I was satisfied, because I loved you so much my- 
self. Well, something’s happened to change you. You 
admit that. But what is it ? What is it ? We can’t go on 
like this. I can’t, at least. What is it, what is it ? Althea, 
what is it ? ” 

He stopped in front of her, his face distorted with 
misery. Her hardness and bravado left her. This was a 
terrible, terrible thing to have to go through. She shut her 
eyes and shivered. 

“ George, I told you. People do change, that’s all. 
I’ve changed a lot. I can’t help it. I’m sorry,” 

“ I’ve changed too,” he cried, “ but not toward you. Not 
toward you, my darling. Why have you changed toward 

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me ? It’s because you’re in love with someone else, isn't 
it ? It’s true, isn’t it ? Althea, isn’t it true ? ” 

He came closer and gripped her shoulders and looked her 
in the face. 

“ It’s because you’re in love with Francis, isn’t it ? Tell 
me. You’ve been different ever since we went to Biarritz 
last summer. Isn’t that true? Althea, tell me.” 

“ It isn’t that,” she contrived to say, “ I tell you I’ve just 
changed, that’s all. Leave me alone, George. I don't 
know what’s happened to change me. You’d better leave 
Francis out of it. And you’d better leave me alone. I 
warn you, you’d better.” 

“ Leave you alone ? How can I leave you alone ? 
You might as well ask me to stop breathing. Althea, don’t 
you know what you are to me ? Don’t you understand ? 
What do you mean by asking me to leave you alone ? Do 
you think I can go on living under the same roof with you 
like this ? ” 

“ Then you’d better go away,” she said, seizing upon this, 
“ or let me go away for a while.” 

“ I can’t go away. And you’ve just been away, and it’s 
made things worse. Are you telling me the truth when you 
say you’re not in love with Francis ? Are you ? ” 

“ George,” she cried sharply, “ take your hands away. 
You’re hurting my shoulders. Why are you trying to force 
me into saying things I don’t want to say and that you don’t 
want to hear ? ” 

He said desperately, jerkily : 

” I want to hear the truth. That’s all, the truth. I 
don’t want you to lie to me. If you like someone else better 
than you do me, for God’s sake let me know it. If you 
prefer another man to me and would rather live with him, 
it’s no good our going on living together. It’s the end. 
It’s the end if you do. Do you see ? So you’ve got to tell 
me. Never mind about hurting me. It can’t hurt much 
more than the things you’ve done and said lately. Is it 
Francis ? Are you in love with Francis ? ” 

She turned her face away, shrinking back from his too 

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i NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

close scrutiny. She had to think. What was she to say ? 
If she admitted that she loved Francis, George might go to 
see him. She musn’t be precipitate, she must be careful, 
careful. She would have to lie and go on lying until they 
could make plans. She held him away from her at arms’ 
length, head averted, and cried; 

“ Oh, leave Francis out of it, I teU you. It’s got nothing 
to do with Francis. Leave me alone, for heaven’s sake. 
You’ll bully me into saying something I don’t mean in a 
minute. Let me go. Let me go up to bed. I can’t stand 
this, and I won’t stand it. I won’t, I won’t.” 

At the first signs of real distress in her voice, at the first 
hint of breaking down, George instantly relented, and put 
gentle arms about her, but the instant his vigilance was 
relaxed, she escaped from him and ran to the dorr, bursting 
into tears. She seized the knob and turned and shook it. 

“ Let me out, George. Let me out, I tell you. I can’t 
stand any more of this. You had no business to lock the 
door. Let me out.” 

“ Come back,” he ordered. “ Come back here. I 
haven’t finished yet.” 

“ Well, I have,” she cried, “ and I want to go up to my 
room. Let me out. Let me out, I tell you.” She was 
like a small, trapped animal, and felt like one, and shook 
and trembled with a longing to escape. But he knew how 
she would fly up the stairs to her room and lock the door 
and elude him, and to-morrow wear that expressionless 
mask again. He’d had enough of that. 

“ Come here.” 

“ I will not. Let me out, do you hear ? How dare you 
act like this ? Let me out this instant. Open this door. 
Open this door, you bully ! ” She was crying, furiously 
and wildly. 

“ You call me that, do you ? ” He strode towards her 
and seized her and lifted her in his arms, although she tried 
to cling to the knob of the door; ” You call me that, do 
you ? ” Anger sent the blood to his head, .but the sight of 
her streaming, distorted face was too much for him. He 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

carried her to the sofa and laid her down on it, melting and 
softening, and she at once turned on her side, away from 
him, abandoning herself to sobs. 

“ Althea, my darling, I can’t hurt you, I wouldn’t for 
the world. Don’t cry, baby, don’t. Listen, darling, it’s all 
right. You say you don’t love Francis, and I believe you. 
It’s all right, isn’t it? 1 believe you. Oh, Althea, my 
darling, I adore you so. I can’t even think about living 
without you. I can’t, I can’t. It’s a nightmare. It’s 
worse than death, it’s hell. Althea, I love you so.” 

He slipped his arm under her and kissed her neck and her 
wet averted cheek. He pleaded and humbled himself and 
confessed his shortcomings. He told her how he had 
suffered and how tortured he had been by doubts. And, as 
though afraid of weakening, afraid of some treachery 
within or without, she turned fiercely and like a wild thing 
pushed him from her and sprang up. 

“ Oh, let me go, let me go. Don’t touch me again. Let 
me get out of this room. I’ve lied to you, but I won’t any 
more. I do love Francis, I do, I do. And he loves me. 
Now let me go. You lock the door and tell me how you 
adore me when you know I can’t get out, and make a mat 
of yourself for me to wipe my feet on when you’ve got the 
key in your pocket. I’ve had enough. Unlock that door 
and be quick about it. I won’t stay in this room another 
instant. Unlock that door. I hate you, I loathe you. 
Do you hear me ? Now will you unlock that door 7 ” 

There was a shrill, wild note in her voice that meant 
hysteria, but to George she spoke the truth, the whole truth 
and nothing but the truth at last. The whole world seemed 
to drop from under his feet and leave him. With a dread- 
ful deliberation he searched for the key in his coat pocket, 
found it, and slowly went to the door and unlocked it. His 
knees shook so that he had to go carefully, and his heart 
pounded in his ears. He opened the door, and put a hand 
to his throat, as though he found it difficult to speak. 

“ I’m going out of this house to-night,” he contrived to 
say, ” and I’m not coming back. You can keep Cleve. 

203 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

You can keep everything. You can do what you damned 
well like. I’m through.” 

She made no answer at all, but passed him like a dog let 
off the leash and fled upstairs. She fled as though she were 
terrified out of her life, and like the report of a gun he heard 
her door slam. 

He could never afterwards remember his actions for the 
next quarter of an hour, for they were almost entirely auto- 
matic. When he found a translation of Plato’s ‘‘ Republic ” 
that Mrs. Allgood had given him, and her photograph in his 
suitcase Mter, he was surprised, for he had no recollection 
of putting them in. Nevertheless he packed enough things 
for several days, remembering most of the essentials, carried 
his bag downstairs, and putting on his hat, left the house. 

It was a warm and delightful evening, and the little trees 
in front of the house were rustling pleasantly. Someone at 
the far end of the Crescent was giving a dance, and he could 
hear the sound of a too-familiar fox-trot. As he walked 
along looking for a taxi, his mind kept repeating the words, 
vacantly. He presently found one and gave the address of 
his club. He suddenly felt tired, tired as he had never been 
before in his life ; mentally, physically and emotionally ex- 
hausted. His very bones ached. At the club he asked for 
a room for a week or two, and said he would sleep there 
that night. Having left his suitcase, he returned to the cab 
and gave the address of the flat in Westminster. He was 
going to see Kate. He felt like an acrobat in a circus who 
falls from a sickening height, but knows that there is a net 
spread under him. But for that net this fall would have 
meant death. 

She opened the door herself, prepared, by the very fact of 
his coming, for the worst. Was that weary, haggard, ex- 
pressionless face George’s face ? Were those listless hands 
and dragging feet George’s hands and feet ? It was late, 
the servants had gone to bed, and she put aside his hat and 
stick, and with an arm through his led him into the sitting- 
room, where she poured him out a strong drink. Not a 
word passed between them. He did not need to look at 

204 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

her face to see the tenderness and concern in her eyes. He 
knew they were there, and like a child he gave himself up 
to her care. She led him to the sofa and drew him down 
beside her. Oh, this man needed comfort, he needed love. 
With brimming eyes she kissed his hair, and took his head 
in her arms. 


205 



CHAPTER XVI 


Althea fully realized when she woke the next day to the 
tune of curtain rings slid along the rods — a pleasant noise 
on most mornings — that George had precipitated things in 
a most unfortunate and inconvenient way. The light-filled 
room was so terrible to her that she covered her eyes with 
her hands and cried out, “ Not so much light, Cotter. My 
head aches. Draw the curtains again. Fll just have tea 
this morning, with nothing to eat. And tell Grieves I want 
to see her presently.” The maid went quietly out, and she 
lay wondering what was the matter with her. She felt un- 
believably depressed and miserable, and her depression was 
not lightened by the discovery that not only her head but 
her whole body ached, that her throat was sore, and that she 
felt decidedly feverish. She was evidently in for something 
— a bad cold, if nothing worse. She had felt chilly motor- 
ing in the afternoon. She wondered if she could have had a 
temperature the night before, and whether, if she were to 
tell George this, they might not be temporarily reconciled. 
But worried and anxious though she was, she put this thought 
aside. She wanted to act as decently as possible. Hers 
was not an easy role, and she wished to play it respectably 
and in order. At least she had been honest with George ; 
she had not attempted to deceive him in any way, as other 
women would probably have done. He could say nothing 
against her except that she had gtown to like another man ; 
a thing that might happen to anyone. She supposed he had 
gone to his club, and she hoped with all her heart that he 
was not suffering too much. Poor George ! Her ^yes 
smarted, and she had to tell herself not to cry; it would 
make her worse and redden her eyes and give things 
away. But she was terribly, terribly sorry for him. It 
was always a tragedy when one loved and the other merely 
bleed. 


206 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Grieves brought in her tea, and Althea took the tray 
from her and laid it on her knees. 

“ Grieves, I’ve got such an awful headache. I feel 
wretched. And Mr. Goodall was suddenly called away 
last night on business.” She pressed a hand against her 
forehead. “ A telephone message came for him about 
half-past ten, and he packed a bag himself and went. 
He may be away for some time, and in that case we’ll 
have to send him some more clothes, but we’ll know 
later.” 

“ Oh, very well, madam. I’m sorry you’re not well. Is 
there anything I can do for you ? ” 

“ You might call up Dr. Maryot presently and ask him 
to come and see me. And tell Mrs. Thompson I shan’t 
want any lunch or dinner, just soup, perhaps. Tell her to 
order whatever she needs for downstairs. And will you 
ring up Mrs. Monash about half-past ten and tell her I 
think I have ’flu, but as soon as I know it’s all right, I should 
very much like her to come and see me.” 

That was over. Her explanation of George’s absence 
would serve for the present. Later the truth would have to 
come out, but not yet. If only she had been able to keep 
him quiet and at a distance a little longer ! She was 
utterly unprepared for this crisis, now that it had come, 
for she had had no opportunity of talking, really talking, to 
Francis. Since Italy she had only seen him three times. 
Once at the Burlington Fine Arts Exhibition, where there 
was a crowd; the night they had all four dined together; 
and yesterday at the Abbey, the least suitable place of 
all. And now George had pulled everything down about 
her head and left her in the ruins — and with a tem- 
perature. ^ 

She would have to ask Mary for the name of her lawyer. 
Heavens ! What a business it was all going to be. One 
thing was certain: she was in no fit state to take any steps 
now. She must first get over what ailed her. If she were 
feeling better, she would write and tell Francis the news to- 
night or to-morrow morning. Her poor head ! The tea 

207 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

revived her a little, and she presently got up dizzily, and 
went to spray her throat. 

Later Grieves came and told her that the doctor would be 
there between twelve and one, and that Mrs. Monash was 
already out when she telephoned, but that she had left a 
message. Althea tried to sleep, hoping the aspirin she had 
taken would help her, for her half-awake thoughts were 
disturbing and grotesque, and presently she did slide into a 
restless unconsciousness. 

The doctor said it was certainly influenza, and advised 
her to stay in bed several days and see no one. He sug- 
gested a nurse, and Althea, who felt she wasn’t ill enough 
but would enjoy having one, agreed. If George should 
hear of it, through Mary perhaps, he would be anxious 
about her, and that would help to take his mind off his own 
troubles. She had Grieves send word to both Francis and 
Mary that she was laid up with the ’flu, and abandoned 
herself to the business of being ill with a thoroughness that 
kept her from troubling about the things she had to do, 
and made the nurse say she was the best patient she had 
ever had. 

And when an enormous bunch of red roses came from 
Francis, with an affectionate note, she lay and feasted her 
eyes on their loveliness, and allowed herself to visualize a 
not-far-distant future that she had not, until now, trusted 
herself to contemplate. 

When her temperature sank, her worries returned. If 
only George weren’t such a man of one idea. If only he 
weren’t so terribly wrapped up in her. If only he would 
pull himself together and be philosophical, and not sufler 
too much. After all, plenty of his friends had gone 
through the same thing. Half the people they knew in New 
York had divorced or been divorced, and had survived it. 
And generally they found suitable partners the second 
time, and were happier. As for Cleve, she would, of 
course, let George have access to him as often as possible. 
Everything would be all right. They were only doing what 
plenty of other people had done. She was a fool to worry 

208 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

so. Little by little the quiet, pleasant nurse, the sun filtering 
through the blinds, the red roses, all helped to comfort and 
reassure her, and on the third day her temperature was 
normal, though she still felt weak. 

No word, of course, had come from George. He had 
not even sent for more clothes. He must have taken a 
couple of suits and a plentiful supply of shirts, she reflected. 
As soon as she was obliged to tell Grieves to pack up his 
things and send them to the club, the secret would be out. 
She was not sorry that this necessity should be delayed a 
little longer. She had had a short note from Mary saying 
she would come as soon as the doctor allowed visitors. 
What would she say, Althea wondered, when she knew that 
George had gone and that she and Francis would certainly 
marry as soon as a decree could be obtained? Good 
friend though Mary was, she neither invited nor made 
confidences, and Althea had not hinted at the state of affairs, 
partly because of this reticence, and partly because such 
plans thrived best, she believed, in secret. 

On Wednesday afternoon, sitting up in bed, she wrote a 
letter to Francis. She wrote it quickly and confidently, 
putting the words down as they came into her mind. She 
began : 

“ Francis dear, come and see me as soon as you can. 
Fm better to-day, so come to-morrow afternoon, about 
four. Something very important has happened, ai^d I 
think your premonitions are proving true. George left me 
on Sunday night, and is never coming back. He insisted 
on ‘ having things out ’ with me, and I told him the truth. 
I’m so thankful it’s over. It was a terrible thing to have to 
go through, but it’s past now, thank heaven ! I broke 
down myself, and the next morning I had a high tempera- 
ture, and had to send for doctor and nurse. I sent word 
to you by Grieves that I was sick — it was all I could tell you 
then. Your roses are wonderful and still perfectly fresh, 
and I have revelled in them. Oh, Francis, I’ve got so much 
to tell you, and you’re so utterly worth going through this 

209 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

awfulness for ! To-morrow, at four o’clock. I may still 
be feeling weak and looking pale, but never mind. 

“ Yours always, 

“ Althea.” 

She read this through and found nothing wrong with it 
except that she had said “ sick ” instead of “ ill.” So she 
re-wrote it and asked the nurse to go out and post it at 
once. 

That done, she turned her attention to The Times, which 
she had not yet opened. It was her habit to read the 
personal items, and then the births, marriages and deaths 
before looking at the news, and she did so now. The births 
and marriages had no interest for her to-day, but as she ran 
her eye down the death column, she suddenly stiffened. 
Monash . . . ! Could it be Mary’s husband ? Yes . . . 
“On the 16th instant (yesterday), suddenly, aged 48, 
Lt.-Col. Richard Walsingham Monash, C.B., C.M.G., 
D.S.O., of Hope House, Rushleyworth, Acton, Somerset, 
only son of the late Col. Humphrey Walsingham Monash, 
at a London Nursing Home, following an operation. Inter- 
ment private.” 

Good heavens ! Mary’s husband. Poor Mary . . . 
but what a blessed release for her all the same. She 
mightn’t think so, of course, she seemed to cherish hopes 
that he might come back to her or repent or something, but 
all her friends would rejoice, anyway. What was she 
feeling ? Had she been with him when he died ? Or had 
that other woman monopolized even his last moments? 
What a pity she herself was ill,’ and couldn’t be with her. 
Reaching for pen and paper again she wrote; 

“ Darling Mary, 

“ I’ve just seen the news in to-day’s Times. My 
dear, I simply don’t know what to say to you, and whether 
to be glad or sorry. Of course I’m sorry for him, and for 
you, if you’re sorry, and I suppose you must be. Dear 
Mary, I’m longing to see you, and help you in any way I , 
, 210 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

can. Come and see me or ring me up. I can’t go out for 
two days yet, the doctor says. I do wish I could do some- 
thing for you. I’ve been through a crisis myself that I’ll 
tell you all about as soon as I see you. George has left me 
for good. But I won’t bother you with it now. I’m better 
to-day, but still weak. I can only send you my dearest love 
and sympathy and curse this ’flu, which has made me so 
helpless. 

“ Always your loving, 

“ Althea.” 

This must be posted at once — or better still, Cotter could 
deliver it by hand. She rang and gave orders to this effect. 
Poor Mary . . . but at least she would find comfort in her 
religion, and in that way, Althea considered, she was for- 
tunate. What changes had taken place in both their lives 
within the last few days 1 

Suddenly she felt very sorry that Colonel Monash had 
died at this particular moment. It diverted attention and 
sympathy from herself to Mary, and although she didn’t in 
the least begrudge it to her, she was badly in need of it 
herself. She was playing a lone hand, and was in need of 
all the advice and counsel she could get. Especially from 
Francis and Mary, her two best friends in England. And 
Francis might feel it his duty, in view of their long friend- 
ship, to help Mary first. 

When the nurse came back she was surprised to find her 
crying weakly. 

An answer came from Mary the next day, but there was 
nothing, yet, from Francis. 

“ Dearest Althea,” Mary wrote, 

“ I can’t believe you’ve seriously quarrelled with 
George. He must be utterly miserable. May I ring him 
up at his office, or ma3m’t Francis ? Or, better still, won’t 
you ? Do, Althea. He will take an estrangement from 
you so terribly hard. Don’t leave it another moment, but 
write or ring him up. Quarrels are pathetic and futile, and 

211 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

leave scars, and I cannot believe there was any good reason 
for it. George is such a dear, 

“ It was sweet of you to write so promptly. I feel 
bewildered at the suddenness of it, and haven’t found my- 
self yet. Francis has been so good and helpful. I don’t 
know what I would have done without him. He was 
hurrying between here and the nursing home all day yester- 
day and the day before. Mrs. Ladislaw was with Dick at 
the end, and as he didn’t want me I couldn’t and didn’t go 
to him. He was operated on for acute peritonitis, but he 
had been in bad health for some time, I now hear, and Mrs. 
Ladislaw says he had been drinking heavily for the last year. 
I don’t think she’s had a happy time, I like to think she 
was really fond of him and wasn’t actuated by hope of gain, 
but it’s hard to understand the mind of a woman like 
Mrs. Ladislaw, and she was a Slav, besides, which makes 
it still harder. Poor Dick’s life was a sad failure, and I 
must share that failure, for though I did what I could, it 
was not nearly enough. 

“ I rfeay not be able to go to see you for several days, 
there is so much to do, but when you’re well enough, come 
and see me. And I implore you, my dear, to make it up 
with George, and at once, 

“ With my love, 

‘‘Mary.” 

Certainly this death had happened most inopportunely. 
Althea rose up from her bed at two o’clock that day without 
having heard one word from Francis, by letter or telephone. 
She couldn’t even be sure that he was coming. She was 
still weak, and was sorry to see the nurse go. She sent for 
Cleve after lunch, but he got on her nerves by repeatedl> 
asking for his father in front of the nurse. 

“ Has he gone to build the factory ? When can I see 
it ? When is he coming back ? Why didn’t he tell me he 
was going ? ” 

She grew impatient with him, and asked the nurse to take 
him out. He might come to see her for a few minutes 

212 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

before he went to bed, but he was not to trouble her with 
questions. 

She tried to read, but was continually listening for the 
sound of car or telephone. Five o’clock came, and there 
was still no sign of Francis. In a mood of hitter annoyance 
she rang for tea, and tried to convince herself that he was 
too busy doing things for Mary that no one else could do. 
Even so, he ought to have sent word. And suddenly, for 
the first time, fear entered her heart, as sharply and in- 
exorably as a driven dagger. For some agonizing minutes 
she gave herself up to it, and her hands and forehead grew 
moist with sweat. Oh, no ! It couldn’t be that. Of 
course he cared for her. Why had he singled her out at 
Biarritz, among hundreds of other attractive women ? 
Why had he been so attentive to her in London? In 
London, where he was the most popular and eligible of 
bachelors ? Why had he gone to join them in Florence 
when he might have gone to fifty other places ? Why had 
he made love to her there ? Why had he done and said the 
hundred and one significant things he had done and said ? 
Why had he taken her to picture galleries again and again, 
and given her the books he liked ? There were innumerable 
reasons for knowing that he loved her, and only one for 
fearing that he did not, and that could be explained by the 
fact that Mary was his oldest friend and needed him, which 
was really quite understandable. She grew gradually 
calmer, and she made a great effort to pull herself together, 
and presently got up from the sofa and went to the mirror 
to see how she was looking, and then to the windows, but 
there was no sign of that commodious old car. 

She heard the distant sound of the telephone, and 
trembled. It was all she could do to keep herself from 
running to it. Grieves came and announced that a message 
had come from the American Club to say that Mr. Goodall 
would like his clothes and personal effects sent on there as 
soon as possible. 

Grieves delivered this with averted eyes. Her manner 
was subtly different. She seemed to be looking away in 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

order that Althea might not see how perfectly well she 
understood. With an inward sinking, and a disappoint- 
ment too keen and bitter to be fully realized till afterwards, 
Althea told herself that it had to come soon, so why not 
now ? 

“ Very well. Grieves. Tell them it will be seen to to- 
morrow. That will be time enough.” The two women 
stood there, avoiding each other’s eyes. “ That will be all, 
I think,” she added. 

Grieves said, “ Very well, madam,” and went away again. 
They would all know downstairs, Althea thought — Grieves 
and Cotter and Mrs. Thompson, and even the kitchen-maid. 
The nurse was on a plane apart, and Althea proposed 
telling her herself to-morrow. Oh, why, why hadn’t that 
message been from Francis? How could she bear this 
waiting ? How could she bear it ? She had to fight her 
way through a thousand terrors. She clung now to the 
thought of his roses and the affectionate note that had 
come with them. He had been all right then. Why not 
now ? She hardly knew how many days had gone since 
George had left the house. They had seemed to march 
slowly and spectrally past,' each one exactly like the other. 

The last post that evening brought a letter from Francis. 
Grieves brought it to her, while she sat in the drawing- 
room, alone in the long twilight. As soon as she had gone, 
Althea slit open the envelope with a little cry of relief and 
satisfaction. Oh, at last, at last ! Oh, the balm of having 
it actually between her fingers ! Oh, Francis, Francis . . . ! 
Then, as she read, frowning lines appeared between her 
eyebrows, and her lips tightened. 

“ Althea dear,” Francis wrote, 

” I have had your letter with me for nearly twenty- 
four hours without answering it, and hardly knowing how 
I was to answer it as it should be answered in the midst of 
the spate of grim duties I have had to perform for Mary. 
I am going to find it very difficult td express all that I want 
to say to you. My dearest Althea, you offer me something 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

so lovely and so dazzling that I am nearly blinded by it, and, 
such is the sad irony of life, Fve got to put it away from me. 
A few hours after reading your letter I happened to run 
across George at his club. I have never seen such a change 
in a man. He looks utterly broken, utterly forlorn, as 
though he had seen the collapse and ruin of everything he 
cared about in this world. I have been haunted by his face 
ever since. Althea, w^ mustn’t do this to him. We 
mustn’t, and we can’t. You’ve always known how much 
I liked George. I honestly think him one of the best 
fellows I have ever known, and it didn’t take a clairvoyant 
to see how he adored you. If it had been any other man, 
if his love for you had not been so great and so obsessing, 
it would have been different. But when I looked at that 
haggard, miserable face, with all hope and life gone out of 
it, I felt like a murderer. My dearest Althea, forgive me 
for what I am going to do, but I know that if I were to 
follow my inclinations in this I would be dealing such a blow 
to someone I admire and like that I could never think even 
tolerably well of myself again. You and I cannot do this 
to George. It would be like killing a devoted dog by slow 
torture. I bitterly regret the part I have played in bringing 
that look into his face. I am only thankful that it is not 
too late for you to make him as happy again as he was 
before and I know you will. Our love for one another has 
been a most exquisite experience, one that I never can forget. 
You are the most charming and lovable of women; you 
will always be able to command love wherever you go, and 
from whom you please. 

“ Will this end our friendship, I wonder, or can we still 
meet and find pleasure in each other’s company ? It is for 
you to say, my dear. Meanwhile I am and shall always 
be, 

“ Your devoted friend and servant, 

“ Francis Mortlake.” 

She read this letter through again and again, aghast, 
shocked, anguished. Every nerve in her body protested 

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passionately against this tame renunciation, this chilly 
nobility. She was wounded, shaken, unconvinced, and 
presently angry and suspicious. It wasn’t good enough. 
No, it wasn’t good enough. It had a hollow ring. It jPell 
lamentably short. It was laboured. It was pleasantly 
false. She was being let down as gently as Francis could 
let her down. She knew this with an awful, inner certainty, 
a certainty that froze her blood. It was almost as though 
the things Francis had said, when he went to Mary after 
getting her letter, and confessed his folly and blamed him- 
self, and laid his feelings bare, and suffered as sensitive men 
must at the knowledge that they must make a woman suffer, 
had sent out vibrations that echoed delicately in her brain. 
It was almost as though she had heard him say, as he did 
say: 

“ Mary, I’ve got to lie myself out of this as decently as I 
can, God help me. She’s a charming person, whatever her 
follies may be, and I like her, I’m fond of her, and I’m 
entirely to blame. I mustn’t hurt her, or I must hurt her 
as little as may be. She’s worth lying for, and lie I must. 
I’ve acted stupidly, crazily, unforgivably. And now I must 
He, and lie like hell.” 

Something of this filtered through his letter. It was as 
if love and anxiety and suffering had temporarily sharpened 
those senses that are called psychic, and she knew. And 
she knew, too, that Mary had had something to do with it, 
that Mary was somewhere in the background of it. 

Then her fighting spirit rose up in her. She had too much 
at stake to submit quietly to this. How dared Mary inter- 
fere ? How dared Francis point out her duty to her ? If 
she could bear to hurt George as she had hurt him, what 
right had they to meddle? That was her business, not 
theirs. She rang for Grieves. 

“ Grieves, ring up Mayfair 00880 and leave word that I 
particularly want to see Mrs. Monash, and that I’ll be there 
at four o’clock to-morrow if that time is convenient for 
her.” 

Grieves returned to say that it would be quite convenient, 

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and Althea tore Francis’s letter into a great many little 
pieces and flung them in the basket. She went up to bed 
with a white face and wide, angry eyes which she never 
closed till the sparrows began chorusing in the trees outside 
and the first early footsteps sounded in the street. 

She was trembling with nervousness and excitement when 
she entered the little hall of Mary’s house and went up the 
stairs to the drawing-room. It was a room she had always 
loved. It had panelled walls of periwinkle blue, charming 
pieces of walnut furnitue, and eighteenth-century paintings 
of old Lx)ndon: Whitehall, across whose vast expanse 
walked tiny figures in bonnets and balloon-like skirts; 
St. Paul’s from the river; and a view of St. James’s Park. 
TTie memories of all the happy times she had had in that 
room comforted and soothed her, and when Mary came 
down, the two ran into each other’s arms and kissed 
affectionately. 

Mary looked very lovely in her dead black, and though 
she looked sad, she seemed less worn and pale than Althea 
had expected. She held Althea’s hand and led her to the 
sofa. 

“ My dear, what times we’ve both been through, and in 
the same week.” 

“ Poor Mary. I’m so sorry about it all. It’s tragic. 
Don’t let’s talk about me, yet. Tell me about yourself.” 

“ Oh, there’s not very much to tell. It’s been pretty 
ghastly. The funeral was yesterday. It was quite private, 
and very painful for me. Mrs. Ladislaw, of course, was 
there. I hardly knew myself which was the real widow. 
I don’t think I could have got through it without Francis 
and Father Walters. But, Althea, I’ve thought about you 
so much in the midst of all these things. Tell me ^ibout 
George. Did you write to him, as I begged you to do ? ” 

Althea flush^, a thing she had not done for years, and 
replied, lier heart beating thickly : 

“ Mary, I tell you George and I have separated, for good. 
It’s quite final. I couldn’t have gone on living with him 
any longer. I didn’t love him and I couldn’t make him 

217 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

happy. It simply wasn’t possible.” She looked Mary 
straight in the face. “ I’m in love with someone else . . . 
can’t you guess . . . ? ” 

' Mary brushed this aside. 

“ My dear, you’re making a dreadful mistake. Don’t 
tell me any more. It’s a mistake, I know it. It isn’t on 
religious grounds that I say this — I never apply my own 
views about marriage to other people’s affairs. You’re not 
a Catholic, so you’re free to consider a divorce if you like. 
But in this case it’s a terrible mistake. You’ll kill George. 
He adores you. Do something before it’s too late. Let me 
go to see him, let me ring him up if you won’t. I’ll do 
anything. Althea, I implore you ; please, please ! ” 

The two women were sitting close to one another on the 
sofa, and Mary took Althea’s hands and held them tightly, 
her great blue eyes full of urgency and distress. 

“ But, Mary, I can’t go on living with him. It isn’t 
decent. I tell you there’s someone else. Don’t you 
know . . . ? ” 

“ No, I don’t want to know. I’m not going to guess. 
You’re making the biggest mistake of your life. It would 
be terrible for you to separate from George for this. How 
can you do it so lightly, on such poor grounds ? If you 
listen to me, if you listen to your friends, you won’t do it. 
Don’t, for your own sake, for George’s sake, for all our 
sakes. Ring him up now, at once. Oh, Althea, I implore 
you.” 

There was something burning and compelling in her look,, 
something so urgent that Althea grew more and more 
frightened, and her suspicions sprang up again and grew 
like weeds. 

“ You’re quite wrong if you think I’m doing this lightly. 
I’ve been through a terrible time, worse than you’ll ever 
know. And whatever you say, I can’t and won’t go on 
living with George. I won’t.” 

“ Oh, why didn’t you tell me you were going to do this ? 
Why haven’t you confided in me h little ? Oh, Althea, I wish 
you had.” 


218 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ I’m not good at such confidences, I don’t know why. 
Mary, you must know who it is. You do know.” 

Mary gripped her hands more tightly. 

“ I beg you not to name any names. I don’t want to 
know. I want you to send for George. I know what I’m 
saying. I have good reasons for saying it. Send for 
George.” 

Althea felt that they had fenced long enough, that they 
were getting nowhere. And a still more horrible suspicion 
entered her mind. 

“ Why are you talking like this ? Why mustn’t I 
divorce George ? What do you know ? ” This frantic 
opposition on Mary’s part wasn’t, couldn’t be, inspired 
wholly by liking for her or George. There was something 
more compelling and powerful behind it. A premonitory 
shiver ran through her. “ Mary, you’re hiding something. 
What is it ? ” 

“ Oh, Althea, only listen to me. It doesn’t matter who 
or what you’re doing this for. It would be the most terrible 
folly. No woman has ever been better loved than you are. 
You’ll bring misery on yourself. I know it. I’m so fond 
of you, I can’t bear to see you hurt. And you will be hurt. 
Oh, how can I make you see ? ” 

Althea was suddenly inundated with the blinding white 
light of knowledge. She pulled her hands away and shrank 
back against the cushions. She stared at Mary, her eyes 
cold and hard and full of hate. 

“ It isn’t of me you’re thinking. It isn’t for my sake 
you’re making all this fuss. It isn’t for George’s either. 
It’s for yourself.” 

Mary sighed and put her hands over her eyes. Her 
whole body relaxed. 

“ Althea, try to understand, try . . 

Then Althea leaneld toward her and seized her wrist with 
nervous, agitated fingers. She cried wildly : 

“ You’re in love with Francis Mortlake yourself. You’ve 
been scheming against me, against my happiness. You’ve 
been talking to him about me. I know it. You and Francis 

219 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

have been discussing this between you. You want him 
yourself. Isn’t that the truth ? Tell me ! ” 

A look of pain crossed Mary’s face. She bit her lip, as 
though to keep back tears. 

“ Don’t, oh don’t say things like that. It’s partly true. 
Francis did tell me. He was in great distress ... he had 
to come and tell me. Oh, Althea, Francis has been in 
love with me for years and years. . . . Oh, my dear . . .!” 

Althea felt as if someone had pressed a bell and rung all 
the pains in her mind and body. She sat there, dumb, in 
an agony of mind too great for speech or movement. 

It’s no fault of yours that this has happened,” Mary 
went on. “ I’ve been blind, wrapped up in my own 
thoughts. I didn’t see. I never dreamt you felt as you 
did. I knew you liked Francis. Everyone does. And he 
liked you. He was charmed with you. He may have made 
love to you. I expect he did. Men give in to such im- 
pulses so much more easily than we do. They can’t help it. 
But if he did, try to forgive him. With your knowledge of 
men you’ll understand. He is partly to blame, I am partly 
to blame, you not at all. I lose myself in dreams and visions 
and ignore what goes on around me. Or else I’m light- 
hearted and gay and don’t think at all, and imagine that 
other people share my mood. I wouldn’t have had this 
happen for the world. Oh, Althea, forgive me . . . look 
at me . . 

But Althea was looking stonily away, her face like a mask. 
Francis had gone straight to Mary after getting her letter. 
He had asked her help and advice about getting out of the 
difficulty into which she bad put him. They had talked 
about her, with pity or with scorn. Then he had written, 
with Mary, perhaps, looking over his shoulder, that lying 
letter. Oh, agony ! Her thoughts flew back to Florence. 
They had invited her to come to Florence — the occasion of 
her first quarrel with George — so that they might be together 
without talk. They had used her as a convenience, as a 
screen. For all she knew, Mary might have been his 
mistress all the time. How could she possibly know that 

220 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

she was not ? They had had a whole existence of which she 
knew nothing, a hundred secrets from which she had been 
entirely and ignorantly excluded. They had been closely 
and intimately in each other’s confidence, and she had been 
completely outside. Colonel Monash was only just in his 
grave, and already they had probably talked of marriage. 
Mary would be the Honourable Mrs. Mortlake. Some 
day she would be Lady Beauvais and have Hawtield Place. 
And while she had been lying ill they had been discussing 
her behind her back, and all the time she bad been going 
through the agony of breaking with George they had been 
having their secrets, from which she was entirely excluded. 

They had exposed her to shame. She had been left out 
and made a fool of. She had never been an intimate of 
theirs, never. They had only let her think she was. They 
had let her believe she was at the very core of their lives, 
that they had accepted her as one of themselves, and all the 
while they had had their secrets, of which she knew 
nothing. 

She pushed away Mary’s detaining hands and got up, 
trembling. 

“ Althea,” Mary cried, you mustn’t go like this. You 
mustn’t.” 

She made no answer, but went toward the door and 
paused, with her hand on it, to collect her strength and 
control herself. Then she went out of the room and down 
the stairs, without heeding Mary’s low, imperative cry, 
“ Come back, Althea, please, oh, please ! ” She went out 
of the house, got into the waiting car and told Beale to take 
her home. 

What a rotten world ! What a hideous, futile life hers 
was ! She was as ineflfectual as a shade. No one con- 
sidered her or cared about her. George had given her up 
with hardly a struggle, Francis had made love to her as 
lightly and unmeaningly as he would have smoked a cigar- 
ette. She was finished with them all. She would find 
another place for herself, another life, other friends, some- 
where . . . anywhere. . . . 

221 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

She had loved Mary and Francis, quite apart from her 
special love for Francis. They had seemed to her superior 
beings, and their acceptance of her had seemed to lift her 
up and set her apart. And now, what was Mary ? People 
called her spirituelle, a mystic. She was only a worldly, 
scheming woman. And what was Francis . . . ? 

She became, for the time being, her lowest, smallest self. 
She indulged in hate, in ideas of revenge, in schemes to 
humiliate them. She would tell everyone she knew who 
knew them that they had been living together for years, and 
that she had just found it out and dropped them. Probably 
Colonel Monash had had very good reasons for leaving his 
wife. Why, he was no sooner in his grave, than . . . Evil 
thoughts she had not known she possessed rose up in her 
and obsessed her. She had not realized she could com- 
mand such hate. Weak with the violence of her emotions, 
she went straight up to her room. The first sound she 
heard was the moving of trunks and the opening and shut- 
ting of cupboard doors. She looked into George’s dressing- 
room and saw Grieves and Cotter hard at work, and a great 
trunk of George’s half packed in the middle of the floor. 

“ You needn’t do any more packing,” she said. Mr. 
Goodall has changed his plans and will be back to-night 
or to-morrow. I want a hot bath, please, with plenty of 
salts, and I’ll have my dinner in bed. Tell nurse I won’t 
see Master Cleve again to-day. I don’t feel well enough. 

I think I went out too soon.” 

She lay in a hot bath, as hot as she could b^r it, and 
breathed the scented stream. Oh, how good to lie and 
think of nothing, and relax every muscle ! Presently she 
was between the cool sheets of her bed, and lying back on 
the pillows, she scribbled a note to George. 

“ Dearest George, 

“ I’m just recovering from a sharp attack of ’flu. 
Dr. Maryot has been five times, and I had to have a nurse. 

I think I must have had a high temperature on Sunday 
night. I knov/ I felt feverish and queer and talked and 

222 . 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

acted like a crazy woman. Of course Fm not sending your 
clothes to the club, because I know youTl come back. 
Please hurry, George. I still feel weak and exhausted, and 
I do need you. 

“ With love, 

“ Althea.” 

She sent this off by special messenger. Then she tried 
to sleep, but the spectre of her humiliation and shame 
stalked and postured and grinned before her eyes. It was 
as though all the world had seen her walking naked down 
Bond Street. Oh, God ! Why had this thing happened to 
her ? Why, why ? Tears welled into her eyes and ran 
down on the pillow, and though she tried to keep them 
back they came faster and faster, and for more than an 
hour the bed shook and trembled with her sobbing. 


223 



CHAPTER XVII 


There were letters on her tray the next morning from Mary 
and from George. She looked at them through swollen, 
heavy eyelids and opened George’s first — and with more 
eagerness than she had ever felt before in opening a letter 
of his. 

“ My dear Althea, 

“ Thank you for your note. I’m sorry you’ve been 
ill, and I hope you’re all right again now. The reason I 
particularly wanted my clothes is that I’m going down to 
Mullion tUs week-end, and hadn’t enough, but I bought 
myself some shirts and things, and I guess I can manage 
now. Unless you change your mind about wanting to see 
me I’ll be home Monday night in time for dinner. 

“ Love to Cleve. 

“ Yours, 

“ George.” 

Down to Mullion to stay with Mrs. Allgood ! That 
didn’t sound like a broken-hearted man. He’d probably 
been having a very good time the whole week. Oh, but 
the world was rotten, rotten ! It was extremely probable 
that Francis had never even seen him. She wished she had 
died of influenza before writing that letter to Francis, 
before seeing the complete destruction of all her hopes and 
illusions. But under her confused, petty, tumultuous feel- 
ings she suffered deeply and poignantly, as though her 
heart were bleeding itself to death and she could do nothing 
to stop it. 

Mary’s letter softened her a little. It was kind, affec- 
tionate, generous. She told of Francis’s twelve-years-old 
devotion to her, how he had implored her to divorce her 
husband and marry him before she became a Catholic, but 
how she had been swept on and away by a flood of religious 

224 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

feeling. She told Althea how genuinely fond they both were 
of her, how unhappy Francis was about it all, how anxious 
they were to make up to her for any hurt they had caused 
her. She implored her to put George out of his misery 
at once, and to come and see her, and let everything be 
forgiven and forgotten. 

Althea’s eyes, swollen already with much crying, smarted 
afresh as she read this. But every “ we ” that Mary used, 
when she spoke of Francis and herself, stabbed her. No, 
she could never see them again. No, no, it was over, all 
over. She could never see Francis again . . . never, 
never . . . and she had to go on living somehow. . . . 

She went shopping in Bond Street that morning in the 
hope of changing her thoughts, and ran across Mrs. Tilling, 
who explained elaborately why she was in town during a 
week-end. Moved by some obscure impulse, she asked her 
to come home to lunch with her, and Mrs. Tilling, moved 
by another, accepted, and sending away her car, went back 
tP Wilton Crescent in Althea’s. She was charmed with the 
house, charmed with the pieces of furniture Althea had 
bought, and with her taste generally. She asked after 
“ that lovely Mrs. Monash,” and the Honourable 
Francis.” Had Althea seen them lately ? Oh, yes, only 
the day before yesterday She told Mrs. Tilling, who had 
only just returned from Florence, about Colonel Monash’s 
death. 

Mrs. Tilling, it appeared, was soon going to New York 
to visit her daughter. 

“ You must meet my daughter Ruthie — Mrs, Vantuyl — 
when you go back, Mrs. Goodall. She’s one of the gayest, 
prettiest, smartest young matrons in New York, though as 
her mother I suppose I shouldn’t say it. Of course you 
know what the Vantuyls are. They’ve always been leaders 
of New York society since the year one. Ruthie has a 
lovely apartment, decorated by Sutz, and she gives the most 
delightful musical parties. She knows all the really import- 
ant musical people, and they love to play for her. Are you 
fond of music ? Ruthie says the opera was marvellous last 
H 225 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

winter. They never had a better season. I was quite sorry 
to have missed it, but alas, one can’t be in two places at 
once. I think young people like Ruthie have a gayer time 
in New York than they have here, but I think London is 
better for women of my age. Don’t you miss New York 
sometimes ? ” 

No, Althea had to confess that she didn’t. 

“ But I’ve had such a marvellous time here, and every- 
one’s been so kind. And now George is building a factory 
over here, so there’s no telling when we’ll go back. But 
when we do, I’d love to meet your daughter. Of course I 
have friends who know her.” 

“ London society isn’t exclusive any longer,” went on 
Mrs. Tilling. “ When I first came over and was presented, 
one knew everyone, and everyone was worth knowing. 
Now it’s open to all and sundry: shopkeepers, manufac- 
turers, American nobodies and even people from the 
Argentine. The willingness to buy and dispense cham- 
pagne in large quantities seems to give the entree anywhere 
to-day. But in New York there is still a little kernel, a 
little core, that isn’t to be got at by every comer with a 
long purse. And my daughter Ruthie is fortunate enough 
to be in the very centre of it.” 

Her flat and rather flaccid face took on a complacent 
look. She adjusted her eyeglasses and took a mouthful of 
alligator pear salad. Her clothes were perfect and as 
youthful as Althea’s. Her grey hair was neatly waved 
under her smart little hat and confined by a fine net, which 
gave it a carved look. Althea perceived that she wasn’t 
really intelligent, that she wasn’t really likeable, she was only 
shrewd and lucky and certain of herself. Nevertheless, she 
saw no reason for not cultivating her. She had always 
wanted to know Mrs. Vantuyl, and now she made herself 
very agreeable to her mother. So much so that she was 
asked to dine in Grosvenor Square on Sunday night. Mrs. 
Tilling had an extra man coming, so it didn’t matter about 
Mr. Goodall being away, though of course she was sorry 
and hoped he would come another time. 

226 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

When Monday came, Althea decided to dress for dinner 
before George arrived, and she took great pains over her 
toilet. She put no colour on her face, preferring her 
natural paleness, 'which, if she powdered and didn’t even 
redden her lips, always made people ask her if she were ill. 

George’s feelings, as he drove home in a taxi with a large 
suitcase and some parcels, were confused. He had been 
through hell, there was no other word for it. Only Mrs. 
Allgood had saved him from some sort of destruction, and 
now he had to act as though nothing much had happened. 
She had urged him to accept Althea’s letter as an apology 
and an excuse, and not to look too closely into the whys 
and wherefores of it. 

“ She probably did have a fever on her,” she said. 

George remembered her complaining of feeling chilly in 
the car, but said she had looked all right. 

“ It’s an explanation you had better accept, George,” 
Mrs. Allgood advised. “ You may never get a better one.” 

Grieves was delighted to see him again, and show^ed it as 
far as she was able. There had been a good deal of restless- 
ness and uncertainty downstairs, and now that he was back 
the house seemed to settle down firmly on its foundation 
once more, and their little world resumed its normal course. 

George, trying to sort out his confused feelings, was 
aware that a resentful soreness was not the least of them, 
and this he wanted to get well in hand before meeting 
Althea. The past week had “ taken it out ” of him. He 
felt he was not the same man, and he had a suspicion that 
he never would be. He felt older, wiser, more tired, less 
optimistic, more complex. Things had happened to him, 
things had been done to him, another woman had taken 
her place in the foreground of bis life alongside of Althea, 
and this had given him a kind of double vision, as though 
he could never again see one without seeing the other. 
This last week-end, with Professor Allgood resting in bed 
and Miss Emmaline Allgood rather pointedly effacing her- 
self, he had spent a good deal of time alone with Kate. 
She was like a deep well into which he could everlastingly 

227 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

let down the bucket of inquiry and draw up the cool clear 
water of her common sense. Her frankness and clarity of 
mind were barriers against folly. He could so easily have 
fallen in love with her — in a sense he believed he had — but 
she had talked him out of it. She had shut her eyes to 
nothing and had opened his to everything. Sex, he dis- 
covered, was as decent a topic to her as tulips. Her mind 
was a refreshing wind from whatever quarter it blew, and 
it blew from most. She returned him to London on 
Monday more than ever her adoring friend, but nothing 
else. And as, in his unhappy state, he had been led to 
think of death as he had never thought of it before, he now 
knew that were he to die he would like Kate to be beside him. 

Well, whatever happened, as long as Kate was in England 
and he was there too, he could get something out of life. 
As long as he had her to turn to, it could never be barren. 
Whenever he thought of England now he saw Kate. 
Whenever he thought of Kate he thought of England. 

And so, thus changed, thus made complex and divided, 
he went up to the drawing-room and opened the door. 
Althea was there with a book. She sprang up and came 
toward him with a pretty movement of draperies and 
extended arms. She was very genuinely moved. 

“ Oh, George dear . . . please forgive me. I’m so sorry. 
I think I was mad. It wasn’t any of it true. I just felt 
distracted and feverish. I didn’t know what I was saying. 
Forgive me.” 

She put her arms under his, and locked her hands across 
his firm back. They embraced each other closely, tightly, 
and kisses and looks and little murmured words pass^ 
between them. 

In a low voice, tonelessly, George asked : 

“ Then it isn’t true about Francis ? ” 

“Oh, no, oh no! We’re nothing to each other. I don’t 
care if I never see him again. That’s true, George.” 

“ All right, all right. I believe you. You look pale 
still. I guess you were pretty miserable. Why didn’t you 
tell me sooner ? ” 


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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ I don’t know. I felt so awful. I thought I’d done 
something that could never be undone.” She cried a little, 
clinging to him. “ Oh, George, it’s been awful for me, 
and I know it has for you, too ! ” 

“ Never mind,” he said, and patted her back gently. 
“ Never mind. How’s Cleve ? ” 

He’s all right. He’s wild to see you. Shall we go up 
to him now ? ” 

“ Yes, let’s go up now.” 

Althea realized that evening that George would need 
careful handling. He was still sore. They had been torn 
apart for a while, and he still suffered from the wounds of 
separation. He was a slightly alien George. But in a few 
days everything — except her own secret and internal pain 
— would be the same as before. The same, with a differ- 
ence. For her world, that had lately been so brilliantly 
coloured, was now drab and dull. 

She made no effort to see Mary, and even left her letter 
unanswered. She couldn’t write. She shrank like a snail 
that is touched with a stick at the very thought of Francis. 
No, she could never see them again. They could never 
meet any more. Those doors were closed, and none that 
were open were attractive to her. The Benningtons were 
dears, but they lived in the country and rarely came to 
London. At Cynthia Causton’s house she might meet 
Mary or Francis. She knew plenty of other people, both 
English and American, but she wasn’t particularly interested 
in any of them. She felt languid and listless ; her vitality 
had temporarily ebbed. Everything seemed an effort. 
She felt no desire whatever to read or improve her mind by 
listening to music or looking at pictures. What was the 
use, now ? Who really cared whether she did or not ? 

But one evening at dinner she happened to say to George 
that she simply must go to an Exhibition of French pictures 
in a gallery in Pall Mall. To her amazement, he said : 

Yes, you ought to go. They’re worth seeing.” 

She looked quickly at him. 

” How do you know ? Have you seen them ? ” 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ Yes,” he answered. “ I went in one afternoon between 
five and six. It’s the only time 1 have for that sort of thing.” 

Did you go alone ? ” 

” Alone ? No. Mrs. Allgood took me.” 

” Oh.” She pondered this for' a while, and then asked, 
“ Do you often go to exhibitions with her ? ” 

” No. Not now. She isn’t in London enough for that. 
But when she comes up for the day we go sometimes.” 

” Why didn’t you tell me ? ” 

“ Oh, 1 don’t know. Is it very important ? I didn’t 
think you’d be particularly interested.” 

” Well, I never dreamt you’d leave the office early to go 
and look at pictures. Why don’t you ask me to meet you 
sometimes ? How funny you are ! ” 

“ I always thought you thought I was too darned ignorant 
to be any good to you. Well, I am, but Mrs. AUgood’s 
kind to boobs like me, so I go with her sometimes.” 

“ Yes, that’s all right, but you might have asked me if I’d 
like to go.” She added, Mrs. Allgood never liked me, 
I know.” 

” Well, she didn’t think you liked her.” 

Althea was a little disturbed by these secret meetings 
with Mrs. Allgood. How often did he see her ? Did they 
lunch together as well ? It was quite probable that they 
did. Everything contrived to unsettle and upset her. She 
was conscious of an independent attitude of mind in George 
that she was quite unused to. She had tried to create a No 
Man’s Land between them, and now she found there was 
one. She remembered what Francis had said about Mrs. 
AUgood that day on Vallombrosa, and the memory of this 
did nothing to allay her fears. 

She began to ask, George questions about the factory. 
How long would it take to build ? Didn’t he find it rather 
irksome attending to aU the necessary details ? Now that 
he had done the actual organizing of the London business, 
wasn’t the routine becoming a little boring ? 

No, George said he didn’t mind it. He didn’t par- 
ticularly care about excitement in business. He liked 

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get things running smoothly and efficiently and then keep 
them like that. 

“ But, surely once the thing’s properly started anyone 
can do that. You’ve done all the spade-work now. I 
should think the rest would be dull for you.” 

I guess anyone could do it,” repUed George, “ but I 
happen to be on the spot.” 

And a day or two later, she said : 

I wonder if Howard Peters has got over his disappoint- 
ment at not coming over here last year? I suppose he 
thinks we’re pretty selfish to have stayed so long.” 

“ I never meant to stay less than a year,” George said. 
“ And now, as I told you before, I don’t care how long I 
stay. So you needn’t worry your head about that.” 

Oh, I’m not worrying,” she answered. 

She wondered, and continued to wonder, at the tact and 
reticence he displayed in not speaking of Francis or Mary. 
A short while ago he would certainly have blundered into 
questions. “ Say,” he probably would have asked, “ what’s 
become of Mary these days ? I thought you and she were 
as inseparable as the Siamese twins ? ” But he now made 
no reference to them. He had “ sized ” the situation up in 
some way satisfactory to himself, and there he meant to let 
the matter rest. But he had sized it up in a way that, had 
she known it, was far more flattering to her than the truth. 
He supposed she had fallen in love with Francis, that she 
had not meant to confess it, until he forced her to, that she 
had, in the end, been unable to endure a final break with 
him, with all that it meant, and that she was now trying to 
put Francis out of her life, and with Francis, Mary, to see 
whom could only be painful. So George thought, and if 
she had been obliged to find an explanation that in no way 
hurt her self-esteem, she could not have devised a better one. 

He was sorry for her, but he supposed she would get over 
it in time, and he saw no reason why he should be the only 
one to suffer. But as the days went on and her listlessness 
increased, he began to be more sorry for her than for him- 
self. He had Kate to go to. When he couldn’t see her he 

231 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

wrote to her, and she wrote to him. She gave spice and 
zest and interest to his life. Althea might not think so 
darned much of him, she might have called him back only 
because she feared to let him go, but Kate thought the 
world of him. In her frank and open way she loved him, 
and this was highly stimulating. Althea, meanwhile, had 
nowhere to turn for comfort. She had sent Francis away 
— she assured him she had not seen him since that dreadful 
Sunday, and he believed her — and now she took very little 
pleasure in anything. And this began to seriously concern 
him. 

One day Sherman Halsey announced his arrival in 
London, and invited himselJF to lunch. He particularly 
asked that there might not be a party, and Althea, pleased at 
this compliment to herself, took great trouble over the menu. 

The squat, Buddha-like little man came and kissed her 
hands. Since last seeing her in the winter he had been 
yachting in the Mediterranean ; he had stayed with a famous 
Greek financier at his winter home in Morocco ; he had been 
to Berlin on a mission that required secrecy ; he had had a 
private interview with the French Premier ; he had listened, 
unoflBciaUy, to some disarmament talk in Geneva ; he was 
in London to attend an important bank meeting in con- 
nection with a merger; and he was returning to New York 
at the end of June on important business, and to see his 
mother, aged eighty-seven. Between then and now he was 
going back to Paris to buy some pictures and to add to his 
collection of Chinese porcelains some fine pieces that had 
just come into the market. 

Althea marvelled that so much activity, energy, ability 
and zest for life could exist in that small, badly-shaped body, 
in that round, undistinguished head on which the thinning 
hair lay in careful stripes. He was like an engine for ever 
under full steam, yet his manner was suave and quiet, his 
movements well controlled. His Oriental look was more 
noticeable than ever. He was like a sort of high priest of 
finance, art and society. He wanted to know how long 
they were staying in England. 

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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

. “ For ever, I think,” said Althea. “ George seems to 
have put forth roots.” 

“ And you blossoms,” he said, looking at her admiringly. 
What might she not have been if she hadn’t had a good, 
quiet, conscientious business man for a husband ? To go 
far in society, especially in Europe, a woman needed to be 
foot-free. She must be seen now in Scotland, now in San 
Moritz, now in Cannes, now in Bayreuth, now Paris, now 
London. He believed that Althea was perfectly fitted for 
just such a life. Well, well, he had done what he could for 
her. He was quite ready to do more. She was a charming, 
pretty creature and had done him credit. His old friend, 
the Comtesse de Mieux, who had met her in Biarritz, had 
repeatedly asked after her. Mary Monash, when he last 
saw her, had enthusiastically praised her. Cynthia 
Causton, Francis Mortlake . . . they had all found her 
highly attractive. He had done right to introduce her to 
them. If they ever decided to go back to New York, he 
said, they must let him know. Had she ever met his friend 
Ruth Vantuyl ? No, Althea said, but she was very friendly 
with her mother. Oh, yes, Mrs. Tilling, of course, was well 
known everywhere. But she should meet the daughter, a 
real social force in New York. And Tilly Shafter — Mrs. 
Ogden B. Shafter, she must certainly meet her. And an old 
bachelor friend of his who had the finest collection of 
Americana in the United States, Dickson Preedy, of the 
People’s Trust. 

He complimented her on her cook. He had thought 
that such an omelette could only come from the hands of a 
French chef. 

“ I do think she’s good,” Althea agreed. I asked her 
the other day if she’d like to go back to^ America with me, 
and she said she would. Of course it would mean trebling 
her wages and probably losing her to one’s best friend, but I 
think it’s worth trying.” 

Sherman Halsey made her feel clever, charming and a 
connoisseur. When he had gone she reflected that he 
would be as good as his word, beyond a doubt. If they 

233 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

went back to New York she could meet anyone she liked. 
Anyone. 

And her listlessness turned to restlessness, and her vague 
desires took form and became purposes. 

Cleve unexpectedly helped her. For two days he was so 
naughty that the nurse lost her temper and told Althea it 
was time he went to school. Althea repeated this to 
George, who agreed. He’d been thinking that for some 
time, he said. 

“ Well, 1 didn’t want him to go to school till we got back 
to America,” she exclaimed. I think it’s so bad for 
children to be changed about from one school to another all 
the time. And besides, do you want him to be an English 
boy or an American boy ? It doesn’t matter to me as long 
as he’s a nice boy, but you know how impressionable 
children are at his age. It’s just as you like, but I think w^e 
ought to consider that.” 

George felt that here they were on somewhat difficult and 
delicate ground. He had seen enough of English children 
to be impressed by their general good manners, good sense, 
good health and happiness, but if Althea put it like that, of 
course he had to admit that he wanted his son to be an 
American. 

Not long after this she said that she was afraid her father’s 
health was a good deal less satisfactory than he was willing 
to let her think. He wrote fairly cheerfully, but into his 
letters she read something that made her anxious. He must 
be very lonely, and she supposed she ought to think about 
taking a trip over to sec him soon. 

“ How would it do, George,” she suggested, “ instead of 
going to France this summer, to go home instead ? We 
could go straight down to Long Island and stay with your 
mother, and father could come and take that cottage near 
us as he did that time three years ago. Then we could look 
out for a school for Cleve. I don’t think that’s at all a bad 
idea.” 

‘‘ Well,” said George, “ if we do that we might almost as 
well stay over altogether it seems to me. It’s a long and 

234 ' 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

expensive trip, just for a holiday. 1 don’t think it would be 
worth it.” 

“ Just as you like,” she said, carelessly, and turned away. 

This gave George a good deal of food for thought. She 
clearly wasn’t as happy in London as she had been. He 
suspected that she was still suffering from that break with 
Francis. He missed Francis himself, and Mary too. It 
took time to get over these things, but surely it was a 
question of time, and nothing more. But what if she were 
finding it increasingly difficult not to see him ? Had he 
really examined the affair closely from her point of view ? 
Francis was still in London. Ail she had to do was to go to 
the telephone. . . . She might run across him any day in 
the street. Wasn’t that pretty much of a strain ? Wasn’t 
it also pretty damned dangerous ? Perhaps she was per- 
fectly well aware of the danger, and feared it. How was she 
going to forget Francis as long as she lived in the same town 
with him? She might be reminded of him daily in a 
hundred torturing ways. He hadn’t really stopped to 
think what she might be going through. He had been so 
miserable himself. Even his homecoming had been full of 
bitterness ; it was, whatever face they tried to put on it, a 
sad anti-climax that was satisfactory to no one. 

He wrote to Kate and laid the situation before her. She 
wrote back : 

“ Dearest George, 

“ You’re not to go. I can’t possibly spare you. 
My life isn’t gay either. Why is everything done for selfish 
women ? Well, I’ll be selfish too. You are necessary to 
my happiness, and I will not let you go. And I haven’t half 
finished your education. Oh no, George, seriously, I can’t 
bear this. Don’t ask my advice, for I won’t give it. I only 
think how happy we are when we’re together, and what a 
blank your going would make in my life, and my instinct is 
to fight for you tooth and nail. You’re much too precious 
to me. I need you, and you need me. Be firm. Why 
should you go ? I’m coming up on Friday with a long list 

. 235 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

of errands, and a visit to pay, for William, to the British 
Museum, but I hope to lunch with you. If you have any- 
thing more to say about this I have arguments that will 
simply pulverize you. Good-bye till then. 

“ With my blessings, 

“Kate. 

“ P.S. — If it’s the only way for you two to be happy 
together, of course you must go, dear George, but oh ! 
how I shall hate it ! ” 

Meanwhile Althea was becoming more and more 
conscious of changes in George. She was conscious of 
another influence at work, an influence that was shaping 
him inwardly in ways that would show more and more as 
time went on. She was also aware for the first time of a 
judge in him, a judge capable of weighing, sifting, deciding 
upon evidence, and in matters that had nothing to do with 
business ; capable, moreover, of passing judgment upon her. 
She began to feel forlorn and unprotected, as though a great 
wall that had once sheltered her from the wind of criticism 
had been taken away. 

Another woman had “ discovered ” George. She 
couldn’t, here and now, begin discovering him herself. 
She would have felt like a foolish echo. 

She had only one card to play, and she played it. She 
refused invitations, said she hated the London season, and 
sat in the house or in the little garden with a book, looking 
pale and miserable. She visibly pined. This was no faked 
state of mind : she felt like that, and what ordinarily she 
might have concealed, she now displayed. George became 
alarmed, and one evening after dinner asked her if she really 
would like to go back and see her father and spend a few 
weeks on Long Island. 

“ To stay ? ” she asked. 

“ Well, we’ll see about that. I’m entitled to take a 
holiday in July or August, so weTl just go if you like, and 
decide when we get there.” 


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NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

“ My dear George, we can’t possibly do that,” she said, 
with a return of her old crisp manner. “ We must decide 
now. There’s the house to put in order and sublet, and 
there’s my furniture to be packed and sent over if we mean 
to stay. You forget that.” 

Yes, he had forgotten it. A compromise wouldn’t do. 
If they went they might as well go for good. 

“ But, George, dear, I don’t want you to do anything you 
don’t want to do. I’m not going to urge you.” 

The days were long now. ^ They spun themselves out 
until nearly bed-time, and George liked to imagine how the 
shadows would look creeping on and on across the fragrant, 
smooth and vivid lawns of Mullion, while the birds sang 
their last loud, clear songs against a deepening silence. 
They sat talking in the drawing-room, and the French 
windows that led out to a little iron-railed balcony were 
wide open to admit the languid air. The sky was flecked 
with small pink clouds, like homeward-bound sheep that 
the red sun had caught. Althea had just had to decline an 
invitation from Cynthia Causton for a week-end at Whittle- 
worth — “ Do come. I think it will be a nice party, and 
Francis Mortlake has promised to come too., . . Her 
lassitude and depression at dinner had been most notice- 
able. 

But, my darling, it’s you who matter,” George said. 

It’s no good staying on here if you’re not happy. I can’t 
be happy either. What would you ; like to do? Go 
back ? I can fix it up all right. Don’t worry about that. 
Would you really like to go back ? ” 

He had begun walking about the room, his hands in his 
pockets. She suddenly got up from her chair and went to 
him, putting her arms about his neck. The wide, loose 
sleeves of her chiffon dress fell back to her shoulders. 

‘‘ Oh, George, I do want to go back. I don’t know 
what’s the matter with me. I feel like a lost spirit. Even a 
lovely, lovely day like this makes me want to howl. I feel 
as though I were on the brink of melancholia. Don’t you 
think perhaps we’d be happier if we went ? I feel as if 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

things were coming between us. I know it’s my fault. 
But don’t take me back unless you really love me, and care 
what happens to me. Do you still love me, George ? ” 

“ Look here, baby,” George said, ” you know I love you, 
so just cut that out. I can’t be happy anywhere unless you 
are, and you know it. I’ll make myself into the wandering 
Jew if itll do you any good. Nothing’s going to stand in 
the way of our being happy together if you want it as much 
as I do. Nothing and no one.” (” Oh, Kate ! ” his spirit 
cried out in an agony of renunciation, “ I’ve done it now. 
I’ve said it now. This is the end for you and me.”) ” So 
if you want to go, we’ll go. You know it doesn’t make any 
difference to me where I live, as long as I have you and 
Cleve.” 

She pressed her face against bis shoulder. He could 
hardly remember when she had shown him so much love. 

“ I think it would be better for me if I went away.” 

He shut his eyes for a moment and then said r 

” All right. When ? ” 

” Early next month, I should think. That will give us 
time to arrange things here. Don’t you think so ? ” 

“ That suits me all right. I’ll cable over to the firm 
to-morrow. I guess Howard Peters can come over and 
take ray place now without any trouble. He’ll jump 
at it.” 

“ Perhaps in a couple of years,” she said, raising her 
head, “ we might think about corning back again.” 

“ Oh, we’ll see about that. No use making plans 
now.” 

That night, half asleep, her over-excited mind busied 
itself with a thousand fantastic and bizarre images and 
visions. In one of these she saw herself in a box at the 
Metropolitan Opera House in New York. Mr. and Mrs. 
Ogden Shafter^ and Mr. and Mrs. Louis Vantuyl were there 
as her guests, and at the back of the box, in the shadows, 
were George and some decorative and charming young 
men. She was looking radiant, superb. One of the young 
men leaned nearer, to her and said, “ Who are those two 

238 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

people staring up at you ? Do you see them ? ” She 
looked down and saw Francis and Mary. “ Oh, yes, 
they’re Lord and Lady Beauvais. I knew them in England. 
Nice people. I must look them up this week if I can find 
lime.” She gave a cool bow and smile and looked away. 
Then the curtain rose on a blare of sound. 


239 



CHAPTER XVIir 


From that time on, Althea lost her wistful languor and 
became brisk and active. She put the house in the hands of 
various agents, and began, with her old energy and clear- 
headedness, to make preparations for the return journey. 
Meanwhile, George carefully controlled and concealed his 
feelings under a cheerful and optimistic exterior. He was 
determined not to disclose what he felt, never, indeed, to 
disclose it until the time came, if it ever did come, when he 
and Althea could reveal their feelings to one another freely 
and openly. Not one word about that week in June ever 
passed her lips, and George was equally silent about what 
he had gone through then and was going through now. 
Strange intimacy of marriage, he thought, that was no 
intimacy at all. He realized that with Althea he was one 
man, with Kate quite another, and this inner duality, which 
he had only just discovered, puzzled and interested him. 
Kate’s trips to London grew more frequent. He looked 
forward eagerly and with longing to their lunches together 
and to an occasional half-hour when he slipped away from 
the office to meet her in the lounge of the station hotel for a 
cup of tea or a drink before her train left. She faced that 
journey of an hour and a half each way cheerfully. William 
was writing again, and frequently needed books of reference 
from the London Library, or required the verification of 
certain statements from authorities only to be found at the 
British Museum, and these errands Kate willingly per- 
formed. 

Then one week-end, a few days before they sailed, George 
went down to Mullion. Althea had also been asked, but 
she refused, first because she knew it was the last time 
George would see Mrs. Allgood and she could well afford 
to be generous, and also because she preferred to spend the 
week-end at Whittleworth, having ascertained that neither 

240 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

Mary nor Francis was likely to be there. So they motored 
down together on Saturday morning, stayed within seven 
miles of one another, and went back to London together on 
Monday. 

The Allgoods were soon to take their annual trip to Aix, 
and Professor Allgood was looking forward to it to relieve 
him from the pain he was now enduring. It was always a 
sad trial for Kate to leave the garden at its loveliest, but she 
made no complaints. She accepted all the trials of her life, 
except one, philosophically, and that one was the loss of 
George. 

This she hated, this she fought, admitting all the while 
that she saw its necessity. 

That week-end was hot and bright. The grass was less 
emerald now, all the brilliance had gone into the sun and 
the sky and the blazing herbaceous borders. They left 
William in his study and went to walk in the woods where 
the trees made a high, cool screen and the wood-pigeons 
cooed drowsily. 

“ Oh, let me fight, let me argue, let me complain,*’ she 
cried ; “ I know it’s too late now, but it’s an outlet for my 
feelings. I’m losing something I know the full value of, and 
though I won’t lose it utterly and in every sense — ^for you’ll 
never forget me — that’s chilly comfort for me.” 

“ We’ve got to get some comfort out of this somehow,” 
George said. 

“ Yes, we’ve got to, I know. Well, yours will be that 
you still love Althea, that you can look forward to a time 
when she’ll be closer to you and fonder of you than she’s 
ever been yet — and I do believe that time may come — and 
that to take her away from the things and places that 
remind her of Francis is the only sensible thing to do. Now 
tell me, if you can, what comfort I can find ? Not a shred, 
and you know it.” 

I can only offer you this,” said George softly, “ that I 
adore you and that I’ll always adore you. That you’ve had 
more influence over my life than anything or anybody else, 
and you know it, and that FU think about you whenever 

241 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

I’m happy and long for you whenever I’m not — and I guess 
that’ll be pretty often.” 

“ Oh, George, no, I hope not. And yet — I don’t know 
— you were too placid before, too unawakened. It’s as 
though you had prayed (and unexpectedly been heard), 
‘ Lord, Thy most pointed pleasure take, and stab my spirit 
broad awake.’ But, George, Fm no good at self-deception, 
and what I do know is that we can never have this again ; 
it win never, never be the same again.” 

“ Why won’t it ? ” 

“ Nothing ever is. Everything changes, moves on . . . 
you know that.” 

“ Kate,” he cried, “ you know perfectly well that Fd 
adore you if you were a hundred.” 

“ Oh, bless you, dear George. You make these impos- 
sible statements so sincerely and delightfully that I believe 
them. It’s no good pretending I won’t change, because I 
will, but not toward you. If you come again in ten years or 
even in five, I will have less vitality, less enthusiasm ; I’ll be 
more interested in the house, in the garden, in books, and 
less, I think, in people. Oh, this waning . . . ! There’s 
a sad and terrible sweetness about it. Yes, I will have dug 
myself in a little more. Oh, of course without William I 
would dig myself out now, but he needs me, poor darling, 
and I’ve no intention of leaving him, ever. He told me that 
Emmaline bored him very much at Pau, and that I must go 
with him next year, and I believe I blushed with pleasure 
and mean gratification. George, there are such endless 
things I want to say to you before you go.” She took his 
arm, walking at his side. Do you remember, when we 
walked here that day from Whittleworth, and I quoted that 
sonnet to you : ‘ That time of year thou mayst in me 
behold ’ ? To-day the one that comes into my head is this 
one : ‘ Let me not to the marriage of true minds admit 
impediments . . ” 

She recited the whole sonnet, pacing slowly at his side. 
That deep and mellow voice was like no other voice he had 
ever heard. He felt, while he listened, that of all the 

242 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

moments he had ever lived through, he would like best to 
hold and keep this one. He had a vision of what a man and 
a woman might mean to each other, each throwing upon 
the other a light that might come from no other quarter 
quite so brightly and revealingly. 

“ Well, remember those lines yourself, Kate,” he said, 
when she had finished. ‘ Love alters not with his brief 
hours and weeks, but bears it out, even to the edge of 
doom.’ ” 

” George, you’ve learnt it yourself.” 

“ Yes,” he said, grimly. “ 1 learnt it all right. I amused 
myself learning it when Althea was in Florence. It was 
when I was trying to fool myself into believing she wasn’t 
going to fall in love with Francis.” 

“ Don’t despair of Althea,” she said. “ The wind will 
shift round again, you’ll see.” 

“ Oh, it’s shifting now,” he told her, “ but ” 

“ No, no ! ” she cried, pressing his arm. “ Hush, 
hush ! ” 

“ All right,” he said, and they talked of other things. 

The car came to the door at eight o’clock on Monday 
morning. George had said good-bye to Professor Ailgood 
the night before, and he had his breakfast alone, for Kate 
always breakfasted in her room. But she came down after- 
wards, looking fresh and cool in a blue wash dress, and took 
him out into the garden, as there were still a few minutes 
before he need go to Whittleworth for Althea. So he took 
his last look at Mullion, at its hedges, lawns and flowers, at 
its twisted chimneys, from which the smoke drifted thinly 
upward into the motionless air, at the great mulberry tree 
with its propped-up branches, at the old oaks and elms, and 
the high old brick walls, with their espaliered fruit trees, and 
everything seemed to him so divinely lovely that it added to 
his heartache. They said little to one another. George 
said he thought that Mullion was his spiritual home, and 
she replied : 

“ Then try to come here in spirit sometimes and comfort 
me.” 


243 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

She led him to the car, for it was time to go, and each saw 
in the other’s face that almost unbearable look that comes 
with an acute consciousness of loss, of emptiness-to- 
come. 

“ Remember what I told you, George,” she whispered to 
him. “ Don’t get fat. Promise me, promise me you 
won’t. I couldn’t bear that.” 

He smiled back at her. “ I won’t. Don’t you worry.” 
And each turned quickly away and Beale started the car. 
No waving of good-byes, no looking back. George 
couldn’t look back, and he knew he wouldn’t see her face if 
he did. They drove through Britwell Beeches, that lovely 
village, and he didn’t even see it, or know that it was there. 


244 



CHAPTER XIX 


The Olympic carried comparatively few cabin passengers, 
for the tide of travel was all the other way. Sherman 
Halsey was on board, his departure having been delayed for 
a week by an (entirely unofficial) visit to Rome, where 
he was understood to have talked to a very prominent 
person. 

Cleve, a more self-conscious and less friendly child now, 
had forgotten him, and preferred being with his father. So 
while Sherman Halsey told Althea in confidence a number of 
unofficial secrets that he had told to a good many other 
people in confidence, George, hand in hand with Cleve, 
explored the ship and talked to the officers. It was a cool 
and bracing voyage, with agreeable head winds of no great 
violence, and George enjoyed it, and began to feel a return 
of confidence in the future. He thought a great deal about 
Cleve, his own smaller self but with as yet unsuspected and 
unknown variations and differences, and about what he 
would like him to be and do. He wasn’t going to let him 
be a hundred per cent. American. No one ought to be a 
hundred per cent, anything, it left no margin for that whole- 
some reaching out of the mind toward those things that are 
not confined within the boundaries of any one country. 

^ He thought he might perhaps take him to England again 
while he was still a boy. He might have a year or two at a 
public school or a university; say Cambridge. And he 
could spend the holidays at Mullion 1 He played with this 
idea, and it pleased him. He might go into the business 
later, but only if he wished. It was no more natural or 
necessary for a boy to like his father’s business than to 
adopt his father’s taste in cigars. The business was there if 
he liked it ; if not, every other business or profession in the 
world was open to him. 

When they were in sight of the most amazing skyline in 

245 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

the world, George was moved in a variety of ways. There 
it was again, that unique old skyline, and here he was again, 
and only he knew with what changed eyes he looked upon 
it. During the long delay that would inevitably interrupt 
their further progress — pilot, quarantine, customs — he 
turned Cleve over to Althea and went below to write a letter 
to Kate. 

“ Dearest Kate, 

We're in sight of the New World now, and I’m 
blessed if it looks as good to me at the moment as it ought 
to. I’ve been away long enough to change, and not long 
enough to get a thrill, but I guess Fll feel differently in a day 
or two. Anyhow, that’s what I keep telling myself, and it’s 
probably true. We’ve had a peaceful trip. 1 always enjoy 
being on the ocean, and I’ve also enjoyed being with Cleve 
every day. He’s a companionable little kid now, and not 
nearly as crazy about strangers as he used to be. I haven’t 
talked to a soul outside of Althea, Cleve and Sherman 
Halsey, that great man. He’s all right, I guess, but a little 
of him goes a long way with me. 

“ I’ve done a lot of thinking since we left Southampton, 
but I don’t know that it's got me very far. I’m in a transi- 
tional stage at the moment, and everything is in a state of 
flux except my feelings about you. And I woke up the 
other night and felt the most awful pangs because I suddenly 
saw a lot of things and people I’d got fond of getting 
smaller and smaller and smaller, and further and further 
away. (Not you, Kate.) You’ll smile when I tell you 
what some of them were. They were places like Hyde Park 
Corner, and the back of the Horse Guards, and St. James's 
Park, and the Zoo, and the Carlton Grill, especially the 
corner of it where I had lunch with Francis that day. 
(That’s crazy, isn’t it?) The drawing-room in Wilton 
Crescent, the view from Westminster Bridge, Kensington 
Gardens, where I used to take Cleve on Saturday afternoons, 
Mullion, the grimy old office in the grimy old city — was 
fond of it, all the same — and then people. Grieves coming 

246 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

to the door, or brushing my hat, a sort of wide-eyed look 
Mary Monash had, and her long lingers, all sorts of people 
I’d got fond of, too many to name. People like me ought 
to keep moving or else never move at all. 

“ Well, I’ll settle down here, all right. And I know I did 
right to come back. And pretty soon I’ll be stepping on to 
subway trains as though I’d never done anything else, and 
getting my drinks again the way I told you, and discharging 
Olson for being cheeky and then taking him on again because 
he’s such a darn good chauffeur. But in a lot of ways I’m 
going to be different, and stay different, and only you know 
what those ways are. 

“ Don’t you forget that monthly list of books you prom- 
ised to send me. I’ll be looking out for it, and if I don’t 
get it there’ll be trouble. And don’t you get the idea, Kate, 
that I’m pessimistic about the future, because I’m not. 
And I can tell you exactly why I’m not, but that’ll have to 
keep for another letter. 

“ Pretty soon we’ll leave the ship and cross the gang- 
plank, and the last material link with you and with the life 
over there and the past year will be broken. But I’m not 
going to mind that, I’m not even going to think about it,. 
There’ll be too many other things to think about, and I 
guess it’s lucky there will. 

For everything you are, for everything you’ve been to 
me and done for me. I’m the most grateful man in this 
world. And grateful’s such a poor sort of word that I’m 
ashamed to use it. And I know this : that I couldn’t wish 
Cleve any better fortune than some day to meet a woman 
like you, who’ll be to him what you have been to me. 

“ George.” 

How inadequate, he thought, how poor and crude ! But 
she’d know what he’d tried to say as well as if he’d said it. 
She’d know what he was feeling. He sat for some time 
with his head in his hands, then suddenly looked up and 
drew some more paper towards him. He began to write 
down, for his successor, some of the facts and details in 

247 



NOW EAST, NOW WEST 

connection with the London olBBce. He wrote at the top of 
the sheet : 

Goodall & Co. 

“ London Office^ 129b Lombard St., London, E.C.3. 

“ Personnel of staff now on the premises. . . 


THE END 


248 



PENGUIN BOOKS 

COMPLETE LIST TO END OF SEPTEMBER 1937 

FICTION— ORANGE COVERS 
A FAREWELL TO ARMS by Ernest Hemingwa^^ 2 

A novel of the war on the Austro- Italian front. American officer 
and V.A.D. nurse escape to Switzerland after rout of Italian army. 

POET’S PUB by Eric Linklater 3 

Young poet becomes manager of country pub. Pub becomes centre 
of curious and uproarious events, 

MADAME CLAIRE by Susan Ertz 4 

“ Not the least enchanting of Miss Ertz’s many gifts is her recognition 
of the fact that the relationship of man and woman is not a musical-box 
with one tune but an instrument of immeasurable range /* — Daily News, 

WILLIAM by E. H. Young ' 8 

“ An unusually good novel ... a charming and lasting tribute to a 
suburban generation that is passing, and it is a comfortable book, loo.** 
— Manchester Guardian, 

GONE TO EARTH by Mary Webb 9 

By the author of Precious Dane, A tragedy in the lives of simple 
people living close to Shropshire earth. Hazel Woodus suffers because 
she Is a creature of the wilds. 

SOUTH WIND by Norman Douglas 1 1 

** Just as Boccaccio used his garden, so Douglas uses the island of 
Nepenthe In the Mediterranean, with Its suggestive landscape and 
its persistent soutli wind/*-r-Nah’on. 

FOUR FRIGHTENED PEOPLE by E. Arnot Robertson 15 

“ What, a story ! . . . The sinister atmosphere of the doomed ship ; a 
magnificent battle between pelantots and a falcon ; the crossing of a 
Hooded river among crocodiles ; and over and over again, the jungle.’* 
—Winifred Holtby. 

THE EDWARD! ANS by V. Sackville-West 1 6 

“ A stately and memorable book, a picture of English society in the 
last days of Its true greatness.** — Ralph Straus. 

THE INFORMER by Liam O’FLaherty 17 

Post-war Dublin, Half-witted Gypo Nolan informs against his friend, 
wanted for murder. Blundering attempts to escape fiom his infuriated 
friends of the Revolutionary Organisation, 

THE STRANGE CASE OF MISS ANNIE SPRAGG by Louis 

Bromfield 19 

A Strange story of a strange miracle, and of the investigations which 
Mr* Wlnnery made to discover whether Miss Spragg really was a Saint. 
He found he was still not too old for romance. 


a 



EREWHON by Samufx Butler 20 

Famous Utopian satiric romance. Author stumbles on a strange race 
of men, and criticises orthodox morality in the light of their customs 
and beliefs. 

ESTHER WATERS by George Moore 23 

Because of its frank expositicii of the wretched lot of poor mothers 
of illegillraale children, this seemed likely to be banned when first 
published. But Gladstone took up its defence, and Moore’s fame 
was made. 

HANGMAN’S HOUSE by Down Byrnu 24 

“ A good book, not merely because it tells a poignant human story 
in convincing fashion, but because it is so richly redolent of the suit 
trodden by its characters.” — Sunday 7'imes. 

MY MAN JEEVES by P. G. Wodehouse 27 

Leave It to Jeeves. Jeeves and the Unbidden Guest. Jeeves and 
the Hard-Boiled Egg. Absent Treatment. Helping Freddie, etc. 

THE OWLS’ HOUSE by Crosbie Garstin 28 

“ The most emphatically thrilling yarn of late eighteenth-century 
adventure that has been written for years.” — Observer, 

ALMAYER’S FOLLY by Joseph Conrad 36 

” To make you hear, to make you feel — before all, to make you see — 
that was, first and last, the aim of Conrad,” — H. L. Mencken. 

CROME YELLOW by Aldous Huxley 41 

Huxley taking a poor view of human nature as revealed in Mrs. 
Wimbush’s country house. 

DEATH OF A HERO by Richard Aldington 42 

” Impossible to ignore it. I will take the responsibility of advising 
everybody to have a try at it.” — Arnold Bennett. 

A SAFETY MATCH by Ian Hay 43 

All the ingredients of a first-rate Ian Hay novel — charming people 
one gets to know intimately, continuous excitement In the luirolling 
of events, and love triumphant in the end, 

A CUCKOO IN THE NEST by Ben Travers 44 

” If you want to laugh out loud until your sides ache, read these adven- 
tures. All the joys of a French farce without a touch of indelicacy 
or vulgarity,” — S. P. B. Mais. 

THE GLEN O’ WEEPING by Marjorie Bowen 45 

A graphic historical novel woven round the Massacre of Glencoe, 
written with this author’s usual colourful and accurate background. 

THE LONELY PLOUGH by Constance Holme 4*7 

** To turn back to her books is to turn home ; and not necessarily 
because you belong to the North, but because they have the deep 
imdercurrent of passion that seems to be at the back of the earth 
itself.” — Observer, 

A PASSAGE TO INDIA by E. M. Forster 48 

” Never was a more convincing, a more pathetic, or a more amusing 
picture drawn of the Huling Race in India. ... An irtmic tragedy,” 
— Hose Macaulay. 


b 



THE JUNGLE by Upton Sinclair 49 

Appalling narrative of th6 horrors of Chicago canned-meat stock-yards. 
Caused an international sensation when first published. 

THE W PLAN by Graham Seton 50 

Gilbert I^rankau calls it “ the greatest spy story ever written,’* 

THE SPANISH FARM by R. H. Mottram 52 

A farmer’s daughter in the war zone of Northern France, 

DUSTY ANSWER by Rosamond Lehmann 53 

“ The modern young woman, with all her frankness ai d perplexities 


in the semi-pagan world of to-day, has never been depicted with more 
honesty or with a more exquisite art.” — Sunday Times. 

1 AM JONATHAN SCRIVENER by Claude Houghton 54 

James Wrexliam becomes Scrivener’s secretary and lives in his house 
for a year without meeting him. But meetings with Scrivener’s friends 
fill him with an unbearable curiosity about the secret of the man’s 
mysterious personality. Who is Jonathan Scrivener ? 

THE BLACK DIAMOND by Francis Brett Young 57 

“ If there were in this country a Prix Goncourt, this is the kind of 
novel that should gain it.” — The Times. 

STILL SHE WISHED FOR COMPANY by Margaret 
Irwin 72 

“A ghost story of quite a special type. Miss Irwin has contrived 
to ignore the conventions of past, present and future, and allow people 
with a century and a half bedween them to mingle in a ‘ now * which 
is past, present or future according to the mind of the person concerned.” 
— Manchester Guardian. 

MR. WESTON’S GOOD WINE by T. F. Powys 73 

” A strange tale of the struggle between the forces of good and evil 
in the village of Folly Down. Action is limited to one winter’s evening, 
during which for a space time stands still.” — Bookman. 

DECLINE AND FALL by Evelyn Waugh 75 

** It is funny, rich and roariugly funny.”- — Gerald Gould, ** An un- 
compromising and maliciously brilliant satire. This novel delighted 
me.” — Arnold Bennett. 

DANGEROUS AGES by Rose Macaulay 76 

” May I ask your daughter’s age ? ” — ” Nan is thirty-three.” — “ A 
dangerous age.” — ” All Nan’s ages,” said Mrs. Flilary, ” have been 
dangerous. Nan is like that.” 

THE DAWN OF RECKONING by James Hilton 80 

Philip Monsell first met his beautiful yoimg wife when she tried to 
drown herself in the Danube. But it was an unfort imate marriage, 
and perhaps a pity that Philip’s best friend was not killed in the Antarctic 
after all. 

TARKA THE OTTER by Henry Wiluamson 81 

The full title is : Tarka the Oiier, His Joyful Water Life and Death 
in the Country of the Two Rivers. And what a magnificent death he 
died I ** A remarkable book,” — (Thomas Hardy.) 


C 



THE POACHER by H. E. Bates 83 

A story of the country, the life story of Luke Bishop, a poacher’s. son, 
learning the tricks and cunning of a dangerous profession. After his 
father’s death, continuing the same work on his own — then his marriage, 
and conflict with wife over son’s up-bringing. 

LOLLY WILLOWES by Sylvia Townsend Warner 84 

“ An elaborate fantasy ? or a true account of an ageing spinster-lady 
astray in her wits ? or a symbolic summary of the unrest which all 
women feel when they feel their individualities hidden under the labels 
of wife or mother or aiuit ? ” — Sylvia Lynd. 

SIR ISUMBRAS AT THE FORD by D. K. Broster 85 

A tale of full-blooded romantic adventure, in direct descent from 
The Three Musketeers ; the background is based on accuratf. knowledge, 
and Incidents follow one another thickly, 

THESE CHARMING PEOPLE by Michael Arlen 86 

The art of Guy de Maupassant is rare among English story-tellers, 
but Michael Arlen can reflect glimpses of the great Frenchman’s genius.” 
— Sunday I'imes. 

GREENERY STREET by Denis Mackail 87 

A novel about the first year of married life. ” Under a well-read 
Government,” said A. A. Milne, ” a copy of this in the hands of the 
bride would be a necessary part of the marriage ceremony.” 

THE GREEN LACQUER PAVILION by Helen Beau- 

clerk 88 

The green lacquer Chinese screen by the window^ comes alive, so that 
the people in the room are able to step outside and enter the green 
lacquer pavilion. They lind themselves in a strange world where 
anything might happen — and does, 

GHOST STORIES OF AN ANTIQUARY by M. R. James 9 1 

” Some of the best ghost stories in the language. Perhaps the finest 
story is Oh Whistle and Til come to You, my Lad. If you have not read 
it you have really missed something in life.” — Everyman. 

THE HAMPDENSHIRE WONDER by J. D. Beresford 92 

” A novel which in point of originality, both of conception and execution, 
is the most remarkable that has been published for some time, A 
wonderful effort of imagination.” — Morning Post. 

WILD STRAWBERRIES by Angela Thirkell 93 

” I have never recommended a novel about which I felt so certain 
that everybody would enjoy every word of it.” — Compton Mackenzie. 

SATURDAY NIGHT AT THE GREYHOUND by John 
Hampson 94 

The story of the tenants of a coimtry pub in a Derbyshire mining 
district. The action is confined to one Saturday evening from four 
to midnight, yet in that brief time the whole past history of the principal 
characters is revealed. 

THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY by G. K. Chesterton 95 

” One of the maddest stories ever written ; the author has charged 
so much of it with thought that we feel there is in him no small share 
of that genius which informs that wisest of all persons, the Shakesperean 
fool,” — Daily Telegraph. 


d 



SELECTED MODERN SHORT STORIES 96 

Stories by H. K. Bates, Martin Armstrong, II. A. Manhood, T. O. 
Beachcroft, Helen Simpson, John Hampson, Liam O'Flaherty, L. A. G. 
Strong, Malachi Whitaker, Frank O’Connor, William Plomer and 
Rhys Davies. (Selected by Alan Steele.) 

SOME EXPERIENCES OF AN IRISPI R.M. by Somerville 
and Ross 97 

” A book that no decorous person will read in a railway carriage.” 
The joyous adventures of a resident magistrate of a large district in 
the West of Ireland. 

YOUTH RIDES OUT by Beatrice Kean Seymour 102 

This is the story of Lindsay Bordon, who did not come into Three 
Wives until near the end. It tells of his unhappy marriage to Camilla 
Neale, and his friendship and love for Tony Warren. 

A TALL SHIP by ‘ Bartimeus ’ 103 

A book that will make many olTice-bound young men very envious 
It catches the spirit of the Navy in adventurous, humorous and chival 
rolls stories. 

DEEP WATERS by W. W. Jacobs 104 

” As funny as anything he has written. We meet real people, listen 
to real conversations, and so, as it were, are transplanted for the moment 
into another, but very real, world in a way that is amazing .” — Daily 
Telegraph. 


MANTRAP by Sinclair Lewis 105 

The author of Babbitt and Ann Vickers here tells a fine adventure story 
of the Canadian Northwest, 

ADDITIONS: SEPTEMBER 1937 ; 

NOW EAST, NOW WEST by Susan Ertz 106 

PRIVATE WORLDS by Phyllis Bottome 107 

KAJ LUNG UNROLLS HIS MAT by Ernest Bramah 108 
THE FIDDLER by Sarah Gertrude Millin 109 

CHILDREN OF THE EARTH by Ethel Mannin 112 


CRIME FICTION— GREEN COVERS 

THE UNPLEASANTNESS AT THE BELLQNA CLUB by 

THp MURDER ON THE LINKS by Agatha Christie 6 

MR. FORTUNE, PLEASE by H. C. Bailey 34 

THE POISONED CHOCOLATES CASE by Anthony 

Berkeley 58 

THE MYSTERIOUS AFFAIR AT STYLES by Agatha 
Christcb 61 

THE MISSING MONEYLENDER by W. Stanley Sykes 62 
THE FOUR JUST MEN by Edgar Wallace 64 

THE MAN IN THE DARK by John Ferguson 65 


e 



TRENT'S LAST CASE by E. C. Bentley 78 

THE RASP by Philip Macdonald 79 

THE DOCUMENTS IN THE CASE by Dorothy L. Sayers 
and Robert Eustace 89 

THE SANFIELD SCANDAL by Richard Keverne 90 

THE MURDERSTN PRAED STREET by John Rhode 98 
MR. JUSTICE RAFFLES by E. W. Hornung 101 

ADDITION: SEPTEMBER 1937 ; 

THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES by A. Conan 
Doyle ] 1 1 


TRAVEL AND ADVENTURE— CERISE COVERS 
THE DARK INVADER by Captain von Rintelen 60 

Author was head of the secret organisation in New York to sabotage 
ships conveying munitions from America to the Allied countries during 
the war. 

THE SURGEON’S LOG by J. Johnston Abraham 66 

“ Ship such a man as Dr. Abraham ‘ somewhere east of Suez/ where 
life is peculiarly vivid and elemental, and you are likely to get a book 
out of the common rim altogether /’ — Daily Telegraph. 

MY SOUTH SEA ISLAND by Eric Muspratt 67 

“A splendid and exhilarating book. The freshness of the Iliad, the 
sheer physical arrogance of t!ie homeric heroes live again beside this 
l^olynesian surf .” — Evening Slandard, 

WITH MYSTICS AND MAGICIANS IN TIBET by Alexandra 
David-Neel 68 

Mme. David-Neel is a practising Buddhist and can pass in Asia as an 
Asiatic, For fourteen years she lived in Til>et. 

SOME EXPERIENCES OF A NEW GUINEA RESIDENT 
MAGISTRATE by C. A. W. Monckton 69-70 

” He was his own surveyor, surgeon, blacksmith, gaoler and under- 
taker ; he had to perform marriages, and sail crazy ships up and down a 
reef-studded, shark-haunted coast .” — The 2'imes, 

UNDERTONES OF WAR by Edmund Blunden 82 

A straightforward, unsenlimentalised account of his life during the 
war and of war’s effects on his fellow soldicTS, the true story of a British 
battalion that lived and died in Flanders. 

THE WORST JOURNEY IN THE WORLD by Apsley 
Cherry-Garrard 99-100 

“ Here we have a classic on Antarctic exploration written by a young 
man who endured it at its blackest.” — Bernard Shaw. The story 
of Scott’s ill-fated last expedition to the South Pole. 

ADDITION: SEPTEMBER 1937; 

THE SECRET OF THE SAHARA by Rostta Forbes 1 13 

/ 



BIOGRAPHY, MEMOmS—DARK BLUE COVERS 
AlRIEL by Andrb Maukois I 

A famous life of Shelley, by the brilliant French biographer who has 
shown so intimate an understanding of English life and Finglish people. 


TWENTY-FIVE by BEVERLty Nichols 7 

“ Why not write about some of the exciting people I have seen while 
they still excite me ? Twenty-five seems to me to be the latest age at 
which anybody should write an aiitobiogiaphy.” 


(CONFESSIONS AND IMPRESSIONS by Ethel Mannin 71 

“ There were moments during my reading of this frank anti courageous 
confession when she was so very human and impulsive and altogether 
reckless about public opinion that I knew not which to admire most, 
her courage in being herself or her skill in mercUess self-analysis.** — 
Sj>here. 


CiREY WOLF by H. C. Armstrong 77 

“ The mere facts demonstrate that Mustafa Kcmal stands alone on 
the summit of possible adventure for dictators in the XX century.” — 
Suiidau Referee. 


ADDITIONS: SEPTEMBER mi: 

DISRAELI by Andrj^ Maurois 110 

FOCH : MAN OF ORLEANS by B. H. Liddell Hart 

114-5 


PELICAN BOOKS— LIGHT BLUE COVERS 

THE INTELUGENT WOMAN’S GUIDE TO SOCIALISM, 
CAPITALISM, SOVIETISM AND FASCISM by Bernard 
Shaw A 1-2 

Apart from his pla^^s, this is Shaw’s greatest prose work. He has 
written two important new chapters specially for this edition. 


LAST AND FIRST MEN by Olaf Stapledon A 3 

To-day we should welcome every serious attempt to envisage the 
tutiire of our race ; not merely to grasp the diverse and tragic possi- 
bilities that confront us, but also to familiarise ourselves with the 
<;ertainly that many of our most cherished ideals would seem puerile 
to more developed minds.” 


DIGGING UP THE PAST by Sir Leonard Woolley A 4 

A fascinating introduction to the advenliire of archaeology, with 32 
pages of photographic illustration. 

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE WORLD by H. G. Welus A 5 

From the time when the earth broke away from the sun, right down 
to the present day. 


S 



PRACTICAL ECONOMICS by G. D. H. Cole A 6 

All entirely new bonk by a famous economic writer, Specially written 
for this series. With many charts and tables. 


ESSAYS IN POPULAR SOENCE by Julian Huxley A 7 

Containing ali the illustrations and diagrams of the original edition. 

THE FLOATING REPUBLIC by Dobr^ and Manwaring A 8 

The history of the amazing 1797 naval mutiny at the Nore and Spithead. 

A HISTORY OF THE ENGLISH PEOPLE by Elie Halevy 
0) A 9 

The first part of a famous standard work. 

THE MYSTERIOUS UNIVERSE by Sir James Jeans A 10 

The book which upset tradition and made Science a besl-seller. Con- 
tains the illustrations and diagrams from previous editions. 


THE PENGUIN SHAKESPEARE— RED COVERS 

A NEW SIXPENNY SHAKESPEARE SPECIALLY EDITED FOR PENGUIN 
BOOKS BY G. B. HARRISON 

” Shakespeare for sixpence is well enough, but this is Shakespeare 
well edited and well produced ; books as bright as new pins, planned 
with care. Explanatory notes are placed at the end — very wisely, 
seeing that this is Shakespeare for the million. The notes are sound 
and often refreshingly forthright ; with the general reader in mind, 
the editor rightly refrains from considering too curiously. Altogether 
lin admirable enterprise and one that seems certain to further the progress 
of the Penguin Books .** — Sundau Times, 

** Shakespeare for sixpence, Hamlet for the price of ten Goldflake. 
The Penguin Shakespeare deserves to be welcomed as a really valuable, 
decent and imaginative adventure In publishing. The paper covers 
in scarlet, black and white are very good looking. The paper does not 
look or feel cheap. The print, black and sharp, can be read as easily as 
the print of any edition of Shakespeare that I know ,’* — Morning Post, 


Already published (1937) 

TWELFTH NIGHT 
HAMLET 

HENRY THE FIFIH 
KING LEAR 
AS YOU LIKE rr 
A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S 


THE TEMPEST 

THE MERCHANT OF VENICE 
RICHARD n 
ROMEO AND JULIET 
JULIUS CiESAR 
MACBETH 

(Others to follow) 


h 





DA!h 0 \- 

1 ' r. - i '' '• *» (I'k'-i v»f', ! 

1. 14 Ir-.Sl.O, A 

f;r.o .<1 I 'M': AN, '.'A i i!.-y r.iU 

rii,* ■■ L’’ '1 'i f'lim.